Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve announced today that the inaugural John D. Rockefeller Jr. Park Preservation Award will be presented to President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Friends black-tie gala on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at the Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills.
“The Clintons’ enduring commitment to the environment as well as their personal love for the Preserve make them the ideal first recipients of this meaningful award,” said George Gumina, Founder and President of the Friends, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and maintaining the Preserve’s land and historical features. Through countless endeavors, including through the work of the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons carry out their longstanding work of safeguarding our natural resources and building a sustainable future. Residents of nearby Chappaqua, the couple can often be seen strolling the Preserve’s charming carriage roads with their dogs and greeting other visitors. “We are thrilled the Clintons will join us in person to accept this honor.”
Festivities will take place in the majestic Playhouse, the two-story, Tudor-style mansion that John D. Rockefeller Jr. built in 1927 as a place for his family to gather, host events and enjoy. Resources raised by the 2019 gala will fund much-needed improvements to Brothers Path, Swan Lake and Rockwood Hall, three of the most popular destinations of the Preserve. Specifically,
- Brothers Path: The 1.1 mile-scenic gateway to the Preserve is a carriage road requiring the rehabilitation of stonework, drainage ways and road surface and edges to secure safe conditions for hikers, joggers, equestrians and all visitors, including those with limited mobility.
- Swan Lake: The tranquil 22-acre freshwater favorite of wildlife-watchers will benefit from improved accessibility through the Brothers Path restoration and the creation of footpaths to the water’s edge.
- Rockwood Hall: The former country estate of William M. Rockefeller is a distinct pastoral section of the Preserve along the Hudson River. The carriage roads surrounding the Rockwood Hall Foundation, the footprint where the historic mansion once stood, need rehabilitation and reconstruction, including replacement of the missing pavers.
The Friends significant new award reflects the extraordinary contributions that John D. Rockefeller Jr. made in the form of financing, maintaining and protecting the land that now comprises the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, a national treasure enjoyed by more than 400,000 visitors each year. With his father, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., John D. Jr. designed the Preserve’s unique 65-mile network of carriage roads. These 16-foot-wide crushed stone pathways give the Preserve its elegant look and overall appeal. The well-engineered loops traverse open fields, dense forests, and wetlands, offering stunning vistas of the Hudson River and surrounding landscape.
Through the Friends tireless efforts, the New York State Historic Review voted unanimously to include the Preserve and its carriage road system in the State Register of Historic Places in 2018.
“It’s important that people are aware that this magnificent land belongs to them, the public, and is theirs to enjoy and preserve,” Gumina said of the Preserve, which is owned and managed by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Since 1983, more than 1,700 acres have been deeded over to New York State as gifts from the Rockefeller family.
In January, a 350-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Preserve was donated by the estate of philanthropist David Rockefeller. The Preserve is open year-round for strolling, hiking, jogging, horseback-riding, fishing (in season) and wildlife-watching and photography.
In addition to the gala, the Friends host four fundraisers to celebrate, advocate and raise awareness for the Preserve: the Peony Celebration cocktail party and flower show; the Rockwood Ramble 10K race along the Hudson River, the Amble & Gamble horseback riding along the carriage roads; and Rocky’s 5K among the autumn foliage.
To purchase tickets, tables and sponsorship packages for the Friends 2019 Gala, please visit www.friendsrock.org or call Jessika Creedon at 914-762-0209.