Park Governance Models: The Community – NFP Centric View

There are 3 examples of what are predominately Government controlled and Tax driven governance models.  They are:

  1. Social – NFP (Not for Profit) – Central Park Conservancy (USA) and Nene Park Trust (UK)
  2. Social – Public Partnership: Golden Gate Park (USA)
  3. Alliance – Chicago Wilderness, City Parks Alliance or San Francisco Parks Alliance

As I work through various examples that use this framework (lens) and demonstrate the different and varied governance model, I will with each example briefly describe their key attributes and limits. The limits aren’t to be viewed as a criticism or a weakness of any given example but to highlight where and when this type of governance should be used and when another type of governance maybe more preferred.

A Summary of The Community – NFP Centric models:

Social – NFP


  • Rental/Commercial
  • Philanthropic
  • Social-Community Centric Ownership
    • 999 year lease on the Park
    • Central Park Conservancy is a publicly-supported tax exempt 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization (est. 1980)
  • Large Scale with influence
  • Legislation limited
  • Trust – Board of Governance


  • Community acceptance or tolerance
  • Not Integrated into a system of parks


  • Central Park – USA

  • Nene Park Trust


Social –Public Partnership


  • Funds
    • Consolidated Revenue
    • Commercial/Sponsorship
    • Endowments
  • Public/Social Ownership
  • Large Scale
  • Legislation
    • Charity
    • Resource – National Parks legislation
  • Alliance Governance – fluid
  • Multiple partners


  • Restricted by legislation
  • Departmental control
  • Social license


  • Golden Gate National Park (USA)

A partnership between government – USA NPS

and NFP – Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy




  • Funds multiple
  • Social/Public Ownership
  • Large Scale – City to National
  • Focus
    • Environment to Broad
  • Legislation
  • nil
  • Governance varies from very structured to very simple (MOU)


  • Restricted by legislation
  • Government control & risk


  • Chicago Wilderness

  • City Parks Alliance

  • San Francisco Parks Alliance


On the spectrum: