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Private group to manage Central Park

A private group is assuming the day-to-day management of Central Park, the nation's first public park.

The Central Park Conservancy already raises money to keep up the 843-acre park for its 16 million annual users. On Wednesday, the nonprofit group was formally given responsibility for overseeing everything from tree pruning to cleaning graffiti."We are going to leave Central Park better than it is today because of this relationship," Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said.

The city will retain control over the park's major policy decisions, but officials said giving a private contractor such a prominent role in one of the world's most famous public spaces is unique.

The conservancy already provides most of the park's $16 million annual operating budget, although the city will continue to provide about $3 million each year in operating funds.