Mayor Bloomberg’s Washington Square Park Redesign: Over budget. Delayed. And NYU can’t even hold their graduation ceremony there…

Not this year...

Not this year...

Well, that blogging break lasted one day but I have a bit of information for you … NYU has announced that this year’s graduation ceremony will again take place at Yankee Stadium (the new one for which close to 400 trees and 1.5 parks in the Bronx were sacrificed*) because Washington Square Park, their favored graduation spot, will still be under construction by the May 13th date.

New York University President John Sexton announced yesterday that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the speaker at the commencement and she will also receive an honorary degree. According to Mazza First Hand Source Blog, they are now saying (who exactly “they” are is unknown) the park will open “late spring 2009” (note: at all the meetings I’ve attended, the Parks Department has declined to give a time frame) and, as MFHS writes, “which we really know, judging from construction-speak, is probably Summer 2009 at the earliest.”

NYU has used Washington Square Park as the site of its graduation ceremony for 32 of its 177 years of commencement ceremonies. (It’s been tradition that the students jump into the famed fountain at the end of the ceremony.)

In 2008, the first in which NYU used Yankee Stadium as its graduation site, it was believed that location was a one time thing and that Washington Square Park’s reconstruction would be finished in time for the 2009 ceremony. But as the project is delayed, it is also over budget.

The original budget for the dramatic redesign of Washington Square Park, once $16 million, is now close to $30 million, if not more. Money that could be spent on other vital NYC services (elder centers? libraries? police officers? fire houses? day care centers? park maintenance perhaps?). But Mayor Bloomberg’s bluster about his unique ability to save New York City in a budget crisis continues. (What creative, innovative thing is he doing that any other Mayor wouldn’t? Have we heard any brilliant financial advice from him? No.)

NYU gave a rather paltry $1 million towards the park’s redesign. They consider Washington Square Park part of their campus and they own basically all the real estate surrounding the park. As we know, in NYC, real estate talks. NYU is definitely playing a behind-the-scenes role in Washington Square Park’s radical overhaul. So, it is a shame that the park is not ready for this year’s graduation so that this very important ceremony could take place in their Park, don’t ya think?

As I wrote last year, I think NYU and Yankee Stadium are perfect together.
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* Related WSP Blog Post: Play Ball: How New York City destroyed Two Bronx parks

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7 Comments

  1. I was tempted to make a smartass comment (and I still may!)…but this has gotta hurt for the local restaurants/bars, etc., in the neighborhood that count on the post-graduation biz….especially these days. It would be a welcome infusion…

  2. Hi EV Grieve,

    There is that, true. Although the students and families may come back to this area vs. trying to find things in the Bronx… maybe? (I once went to a great bar near old Yankee Stadium but I’m not sure what the overall landscape is like there. ?)

    Cathryn.

    p.s. Smartass comments welcome!

  3. Given the park’s history as a center of dissent, I am sure Bloomberg wants much it inaccessible until afterthe election.

  4. Karen K.

     /  March 24, 2009

    tee hee.

  5. The park as a center of a dissent is long gone. If anyone shouted, gave a anti Bloomie speech or held up banners in Wash Sq, the cops would likely appear in seconds to take them down.

  6. Hi Ken,

    That’s sort of sad. I guess organized protests are allowed but, anything unsanctioned, not so much. Like when Fall Out Boy tried their acoustic concert in the park… even tho’ that wasn’t a protest. Still, it’d be worth testing it out. I keep sensing with the economic situation, people are getting a bit more daring but at the same time… we are still living in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York where everything is monitored and controlled.

    Thanks as always, everyone, for your comments.

    Cathryn.

  7. Rick

     /  April 21, 2009

    I was at Washington Square for the first time in 1985, been there many many times since. My son was 4, he is a grad student now and it would have been cool to have it there! Last time I was in NYC they were working on the park and now it’s not done? How long does it take to redo a park??? New York is developing a habit of taking forever to finish anything it starts. I have a love/hate relationship with NYC and this is one of the latter.

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