..."New York is creating a two-tier system," said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates, a frequent critic of the Parks Department.

"The nightmare is that all these deals are going on behind closed doors and that people are taking city dollars away from other parks," Croft said.

The situation is unusual. Although it is not uncommon for the city and nonprofits to hire from the same pool of advocates and experts, it is extremely rare for people to work for both at the same time....

...In 2008, Stephanie Thayer became director of the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn - and the Parks Department's director of North Brooklyn Parks.

Records show Thayer got $86,528 from the city. She said her work for the nonprofit is voluntary.

"I'm still fighting the good fight," she said. "I'm just doing it in a different way."

Figuring out which hat Thayer is wearing has created frustration among some park advocates.

Laura Hofmann, a member of Open Space's steering committee, said Thayer spurned her when she tried to find out how many trees would be planted in a new park.

"She basically told me you have to trust the Parks Department and you have no business asking for this kind of information," Hofmann said.
[Daily News, July 11, 2010]