Binger, a 5th generation New Yorker and now a resident of Brooklyn, was in charge of the planning, development, and renovation of the city’s parks for seven years.
During his time with the Parks Department, Binger and his staff of 200 landscapers and engineers worked on “everything from playgrounds to major renovations,” he said.
Binger grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As a young man, he attended Harvard University and graduated there with a degree in art history before serving two years with the Army in Germany. Upon returning from the service, Binger went on to earn a graduate degree in architecture from Carnegie Mellon.
After returning to New York, he found an opening at the Parks Department and pounced on it.
“I jumped in with both feet and stared projects that are still going on today,” said Binger.
In 1979, the budget for capital projects soared from $8 to $120 million a year, a leap that enabled him to improve the city’s parks.
Each park project, according to Binger, would have to be individually voted on and approved by the department, as well as the City Council and community boards. His sector, Capital Projects, would be in change of the design stage, hire contractors, and supervise construction until the project was complete.
Binger concedes that big parks like Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park are pivotal to the city, but a park's significance is not purely based on size. For Binger, Cobble Hill Park in Brooklyn, which spans about half a block, is just as important as larger ones because of “the relationship it has with the community.”
“New York is a series of small town, and the center of the world, but without parks, it’s a boring place to live,” he said.