Thoughts on Construction at Washington Square Park

new fountain hole at washington sq parkSomebody mentioned the other day that they walked by Washington Square Park and it looked like the whole place had been bulldozed. (Which … of course… a lot of it has.)

It’s true – when you walk by the Northwest Quadrant where the work is being done now – everything that was connected and seemed intimate and inviting about the space has been made to appear barren. There’s large concrete paths. There’s “plazas” but you won’t see or interact with the people sitting across from you because there will be ornamental flower beds between you and them. (Think suburban park.)

Flowers are beautiful, of course, but part of the charm of Washington Square Park is the ways in which you’d connect with others there. There will now be impediments to that. And it doesn’t feel like you would want to stroll through, it feels like a passageway. Of course, it’s not done yet.

Which brings me to the information I was told by City Council Member Alan Gerson at the City Council Parks Department Budget Hearing. He mentioned that Manhattan Community Board 2 has some say in some of the design (not the things most of us would like to see changed, but still) but they have not met to discuss it. He wasn’t sure why.

(Council Member Gerson – Washington Square Park falls in his district – acts as if there was just nothing he could do about the redesign of Washington Square Park – when clearly there was. He took the easy route and sold out his community.)

The work at Washington Square Park is proceeding and the Community Board hasn’t met to discuss it … do they think the Parks Department is waiting for their input?

J. Bary, who took this photo and has been photographing the work there, says there’s trees being dropped in around the new fountain location but – if so – I haven’t noticed them. It’s possible that they are mostly visible from high up – where he is taking his photos from. It’s also probable that I focus so intently on the hole in the ground where the “aligned” fountain is supposed to appear that I’ve missed them.

Please say it isn’t so — Mayor Bloomberg seeking third term?

Apparently, our CEO Mayor Michael Bloomberg feels he has not done enough damage during his two terms and is “exploring” ways to further his “agenda” which he considers “unfinished.”

The New York Times reports today that “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his senior advisers have been exploring strategies that would allow him to remain in political life, including undertaking a campaign to overturn the city’s term limits law or making a bid for governor, according to two people who have been briefed on the deliberations.”

The story continues, “Either move by the mayor would dramatically shake up the political world in New York and beyond, given his national profile and previous pledge to try to shape the presidential campaign this fall, perhaps by establishing an independent political organization.”

What could Mayor Bloomberg’s “unfinished agenda” be?

Let’s see… thus far he is responsible for expanding privatization of our public spaces, cutting down large swaths of trees in our city parks, endless “development” of luxury housing, making NYC un-affordable to many, extending a climate where corporations and Wall Street rule, endless “testing” of children in schools, etc. etc.

The Times states that “Mr. Bloomberg, 66, has a record of overcoming long political odds with his single-minded focus and willingness to spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigns…”

He has had some assistance in “overcoming long political odds” over the years by publications like The New York Times which so rarely hold him to true task on anything.

Mayor Bloomberg’s fingerprints extend to the dramatic changes at – and bulldozing of – Washington Square Park, the desire to privatize and reduce public space at Union Square Park, Yankee Stadium‘s destruction of two Bronx parks, Randalls Island’s privatization leading to destruction of wildlife and natural habitat. There’s more. But the pattern is overall privatization and pacification of New York City’s public spaces.

It is stated that Mr. Bloomberg has “clearly been bitten by the political bug and is not eager to give up the power that comes with elected office.”

I’m sure.

The mayor’s current term is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2009.


*note: A photo of Mayor Bloomberg tossing a tree into a chipper would not load, for some unknown reason, but hopefully later a photo will appear with this post.