My Conversation with NYC Parks Commissioner Benepe. Part II: When city officials spread “wrong information”

New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said to me, “It’s all those crazy bloggers spreading wrong information.”

I suppose officials always need a scapegoat. But what about when the City official in charge of an agency, say, the Parks Department, knowingly spreads wrong information? What then?

Washington Square Park

On the cutting back of public space in Washington Square Park Commissioner Benepe argued, “There’s no reduction of public space.”

The facts: In reality, there’s a 23% reduction of the central plaza in Washington Square Park, according to the blueprints. That’s 23% less room — not even including the reduction in public space due to the reconfiguration of the old fountain, which served as a one-ring circus for performers and protests.

“The Community Board approved it,” hammered Benepe — a theme we’ve heard over and over again from City officials like Council member Alan Gerson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn too. In reality, the Community Board rescinded its approval over a year ago, at a meeting April 19, 2007. Said the commish: “That’s not true.” Well, yes, it is.

Union Square Park

In discussing how the community would like to see something different at Union Square Park than what the Parks Department is offering, Commissioner Benepe retorted, “Why did the Community Board support it? Why did the Arts Commission?”

The next day to NY1, Commissioner Benepe relayed the following: “It’s really a terrific plan, we’ve been working on it for five years,” said Benepe. “It was fully approved overwhelmingly by the community board…”

The facts: According to Community Board 5 Chair David Siesko, “Despite all of the public observations, Community Board Board Five has not yet taken a position on the future use of the pavilion”, which the Mayor wants to turn into a private restaurant most likely owned by, or affiliated with, Union Square Partnership co-chair, Danny Meyer.

Commissioner Benepe then said to me, “The projects are moving forward.” … Truth be damned? So much for us “crazy bloggers.”

Leave a comment


  1. Karen Koziol

     /  May 3, 2008

    Is this a case of double standards?

    In this information age, it is hard to conceal the truth for very long, however, it seems it is easy to “discredit” the truth tellers by dismissing them as “crazy bloggers”.

    Thanks for reporting the facts. Keep on blogging. KK

  2. cat

     /  May 4, 2008

    Hi Karen,

    Good points.

    Thanks for your comments!


  1. Reflections on Sunday’s New York Times article, “The Battle of Washington Square” « Washington Square Park

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: