Two of Seven Newly Planted Trees Surrounding the Washington Square Park Fountain Have Died — Is the Cause the Design? + WSP Task Force Meeting Update

Dying Tree Lining Fountain, Since Removed

Last week’s meeting of Washington Square Park Task Force/Community Board 2 Parks Committee on December 2nd provided minimal new information about Phase II (currently in progress) and Phase III of the Park’s redesign.

Another meeting of the WSP Task Force is scheduled for February 2010 at which the NYC Parks Department will be prepared to present information on Phases II and III since they admitted they were not equipped to do so at the December 2nd meeting.

[Update: This meeting did not happen; it was the infamous meeting where the blueprints for Phase II were dropped off on a table with no discussion. It was a CB2 Parks Committee meeting; the Task force did not meet.]

There was one item of note: A brief discussion on why two of the new trees planted around the Washington Square Park Fountain died earlier this year. Landscape designer George Vellonakis insisted that there is “no drainage problem” and that it was just a result of the construction (which is troubling, if so, also).

I encountered a landscape architect at the park one day in August when the two trees were being dug up and removed who informed me that the (new) design is not appropriate for proper water drainage with structural soil and that this diminishes (perhaps eliminates) the tree’s ability to survive.

Seven of the trees that lined the Fountain (close to forty years old) were axed because of the Bloomberg Administration’s desire to relocate the Washington Square Park Fountain 22 feet east so that it would align with the Arch at Fifth Avenue. The Fountain had been in its previous location since 1871.

The true test will be if the new trees planted survive. If they don’t, let’s hope that the Parks Department will take some corrective action.  It seems wrong to sacrifice living trees for a potentially flawed design.


Leave a comment


  1. New to the neighborhood. What was the mayor’s rationale for aligning the fountain with the arch?

  2. Hi Georgia,

    Purely aesthetic. So the Fountain could be conceivably viewed from the Empire State Building down Fifth Avenue (which actually it isn’t) and for tourists to get better pictures was another reason given.


  3. Javaman

     /  August 19, 2011

    Amazing how the designers in 1871 knew what they were doing and todays half wit politicians who not only believe they know better, but they also believe, due to their massive egos, they can redesign anything better than any professional in any field.

    I wish bloomers would go away.

  4. Javaman,

    So true. Everything should not be about symmetry – let’s leave a little to the imagination and preserve the history and some of what makes the park unique. Thankfully, they couldn’t tinker with everything but they did tinker with a lot. Fountain was in alignment within entire park previously — location should have been left alone.

    It’s likely someone in the Parks Dept. came up with the alignment idea and presented it to Bloomberg who probably loved it – and then helped push it through Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings.

    Are there two more years of Bloomberg? It just seems way too long at this point.

    Thanks for writing!


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: