Mama Hawk Violet Spotted At Washington Square — Visits the Nest With Bobby; Bobby and Pip splitting time between WSP and Union Square

I haven’t written about the Washington Square Park Red-tailed hawks of late. Last Thursday (8/11), hours before the New York Times shut down the HawkCam, and in time to be captured on video, Violet and Bobby returned to the nest together. Mama Hawk Violet had been ‘missing’ – not spotted in close to a month – so there was relief that she was still around and doing okay.

I wonder how they communicated to each other to meet up back there.

Pip - West 3rd Street Antenna Late July

A couple of weeks ago in the early evening at Washington Square, I encountered Bruce from the Urban Hawks Blog and Heather from Roger_Paw blog, who were there with a group seeking Bobby and youngster Pip along Washington Square North. They informed me that the two hawks had begun splitting their time between Washington Square and Union Square. I had mixed feelings about that (feeling a bit, uh, territorial?) but this would appear to give the pigeons and squirrels at Washington Square (and mice and rats, should they be there too) some breathing room.

As for Pip’s gender, I’ve always thought of Pip as a boy but then one of the hawk blogs stated very definitively that Pip is a girl. I started referring to Pip as ‘she’ thinking this was confirmed. According to Andy Newman at the Times (in the comments at Thursday’s post), it is the “consensus” that Pip is a girl but it is not verified. A Times‘ commenter wrote that boy hawks are usually smaller than girl hawks and she thought, based on the young hawk’s size, that Pip is a boy. This sounds plausible. Thus far, I’ve noticed a lot of things expressed about the hawks as fact end up being entirely wrong or else these downtown hawks are going against the ‘norm.’ (Which would also make sense, right?)

Earlier this summer, Pip had been taking advantage of the area that’s fenced off and under construction (Southwestern end of the park). Since that section (Phase II-B) is not scheduled to be completed any day soon (more on that later), somebody should be enjoying it! Of course, then there’s still Phase III construction to come — for which bids to complete the work are allegedly due August 17th.

Pip will have access to the soon to be recreated Mounds (moved from Phase II to Phase III) before anyone else! This final phase of Washington Square Park construction probably won’t start until next year, I’d imagine, but we’ll see.

Photo: Redtail 10025

Previously on WSP Blog: Violet, Bobby and Pip

Fashion Designer and Former Tenant Patricia Field: NYU Killed 8th Street

Patricia Field's Former Storefront, House of Field, on East 8th Street

Earlier this year, I wrote about the state of 8th Street off of the Park, once a destination when visiting New York City, a thriving strip of unique movie theaters, stores and book shops. Particularly over the last decade, 8th Street has veered downhill with vacant store fronts left and right, despite (or partly because of?) the existence and ‘efforts’ of the Business Improvement District. The BID, formerly named the 8th Street BID before changing it to the more gentle-sounding, Village Alliance, heavily promoted the redesign of Washington Square Park, under former director Honi Klein.

The Architect’s Newspaper Blog posted an article recently, “The Trouble With Eighth Street,” revealing the existence of a report commissioned by New York University which noted the potential economic viability of the strip within the Village. Television and movie fashion designer Patricia Field (“Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada”) was quoted within the piece via a spokesperson strongly critical of the university. Ms. Field’s extremely popular store, House of Field, resided on 8th Street between 5th Avenue and University Place for close to 40 years until 2002.

It was revealed that the educational institution, and one of the largest real estate holders in New York City, largely in the area surrounding Washington Square, was Ms. Field’s 8th Street landlord, responsible for her ouster from the retail and residential space in the building.

From the piece:

The street, which once played a distinct role in Village bohemia, began as a hub for book dealers and fostered the original Whitney Museum. Eventually, the street became a district for shoe stores and edgy fashion anchored by Patricia Field. Field decamped for the Bowery about nine years ago and much of the street has since devolved into a hodgepodge of chain stores and characterless low-end retail.

Recently, NYU commissioned a report on the economy in the Village by the economic consultants Appleseed. The report identified the strip as one of a number of “soft areas where the development of new businesses can be encouraged,” particularly the block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

“Appleseed was examining the economy of Greenwich Village, we didn’t tell them the specifics of what to examine,” said NYU’s chief spokesperson John Beckman. “The mentions of Eighth Street should not be taken as an indication that NYU would be directly involved in the development of the street.”

Still, one former Eighth Street stalwart isn’t buying it. “This is a bitter subject for Patricia as she was forced to not only close her store on Eighth Street but also leave her home [she was residing on the top floor of the building],” wrote Patricia Field’s spokesperson Dennis Bernard in an email. “In 2002, NYU kicked her out and all the other business followed. NYU killed Eighth Street. This all she has to say about it.”

According to a feature on Ms. Field at CityFile, the designer studied philosophy at the university, and, shortly after a gig as an assistant fashion buyer, she opened her store on 8th Street in the ’60’s until it closed in the early ‘2000s. Field’s retail store currently resides on the Bowery.

NYU’s press release touting the data found in the Appleseed report states how important NYU is to the “economic health of Greenwich Village and NYC.”

Former House of Field retail space Now: Vacant

Posted earlier this week at CityFeet, a commercial real estate site, is an advertisement that – surprise! – the former House of Field location at 10 East 8th Street is currently available:

Greenwich Village Location ~ 1600 SF ~ Floor to Ceiling Glass Store Front ~ New AC & Lighting ~ New Infrastructure ~ Hi-Ceilings Neighbors Include : Le Pain Quotidien, Capital One Bank, L’Occitane en Provence, CVS Pharmacy, Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, & Mario Batali’s Otto Restaurant

It appears that NYU, behind the eradication of places with endless character like The Bottom Line and House of Field, wants to expunge any entity with a unique, free-spirited nature from the area — so as not to influence their students? for real estate reasons? It’s unclear how much influence the university had on the redesign of Washington Square Park, despite their small $1 Million investment (at least that’s what’s known publicly). For Eighth Street, a combination of greed, bad decisions and mismanagement by the arbiters of the real estate on the strip — those same entities attempting to “revitalize” it — is responsible for its demise. Perhaps they should try a new tactic?

Top Photo: KMP Blog
Bottom Photo: CityFeet

You can read and download the report NYU commissioned here:
greenwich-village-profile-2011-05-16

It’s the Prime of Summer 2011 – Is Something (New) Wrong with the Washington Square Fountain?

Updated 4:45 p.m.

Opening Day Phase I - May 2009

Fountain Now, Summer 2011

Fountain, No Side Water Plumes, August 2011

In mid-May of this year, the new Washington Square Park fountain went under repair for two or so weeks. As part of the Bloomberg Administration’s redesign of the park, the famous fountain, in its previous location since 1871, was moved 22 feet east to align with the Arch. It is now a little over two years old. The “new” fountain was unveiled in May 2009 and is pictured at top at the opening of Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase I. The fountain was rebuilt from scratch using the stones from the previous structure. The “old” fountain was eighty years old — according to documents I unearthed recently, written by former City Council Member Alan Gersonand still working.

The fountain has side plumes or “jets” that spout water from them. They were working up until June of this year but they are currently not working and haven’t been for over a month. It’s unclear if the issue is (again) related to the construction or to perhaps maintenance of the Washington Square fountain.

Opening Ceremony Phase I 2009 - Side Jets Working

In June -- Plumes Still Working

The plume source -- Now

If you visit the fountain, the experience is somewhat lessened to say the least. It’s perplexing what the exact problem is. (I wrote to the Parks Department Press Office but did not receive an answer on this.)

Will this latest issue be acknowledged, addressed and fixed at some point? Much money and resources were used to dismantle, relocate, align and reconstruct the Washington Square Park Fountain. You’d imagine, at a major city park, in the prime of summer, that those side water jets on a virtually new structure would be working for the public’s enjoyment and use. If something is wrong – which appears to be the case – what could it be?

* * *

On a side note: Yesterday the fountain was drained and cleared of bottles that accumulate underneath it and cause problems and are of a concern to people wading IN the fountain. (Note: this is not the cause of the plumes not working!) I gather later in the evening people are leaving bottles in there. I don’t know if those people read my blog (!) but, if you see someone doing so, perhaps ask them to clean up a bit! There’s also handily now recycling for bottles and cans at the park. Someone just wrote in about seeing cigarette butts in the fountain as well. The Parks Department without a doubt has its issues but we do all need to respect the space that we are using and share.

** Previous WSP Blog Post from May 16th, 2011: Is the New Washington Square Park Fountain Falling Apart? Fountain Now Under Wraps

Photos: Cathryn

New Posts Return Thursday, August 11th

Check back…

 

Hazardous Pesticide Spraying in Prospect Park Tonight

Prospect Park Lady Bug - Dead Soon?

After first saying that pesticide spraying would not occur in Prospect Park because of the Celebrate Brooklyn concerts – something that raised a few eyebrows (either something is urgent, or it is not) – the New York City Department of Health backtracked and said pesticide spraying will occur tonight after midnight in the Park.

Prospect Park is a 585 acre park with a 60 acre lake. There are dragonflies and bats — both natural predators of the mosquito, as well as butterflies, ladybugs, bees — all are killed by the pesticide spraying. In addition, people walking through the park tomorrow morning will be breathing in fresh pesticide spray which has known and detrimental health effects. People will be walking their dogs which are close to the ground and they will breathe in and walk through the harmful pyrethroid pesticide, Anvil 10+10.

A few years ago, I flyered Prospect park-goers with literature about the health effects of the pesticides and a woman stopped to tell me, that, after walking through the park the morning after it had been sprayed, she encountered numerous lady bugs on the ground dying.

This is our eco-system — we are charged with protecting it; not killing it.

You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning than getting the West Nile virus. If someone did get West Nile, typically, they would not know it or might experience a slight cold.

The city is also spraying other sections of Brooklyn and Queens. Originally the spraying was to take place Wednesday, August 3rd but was delayed due to rain.

See further information from the No Spray Coalition, an organization I work with —

NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY

The City has announced it will spray dangerous pesticides in crowded residential areas in Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, August 4th, 2011.

The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg’s and the City’s Department of Health decision to renew the mass-spraying — no legitimate reasons given.

We also condemn the New York City government’s advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths. The City knows this; we negotiated an agreement with the City last year that they wouldn’t recommend DEET.

Furthermore, this year’s spray of choice — Anvil 10+10 — is listed in Local Law 37 (2005 update, see page 1, paragraph 4, discussion of table 2) that states that for piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264 contained as synergists in Anvil 10 + 10, that:

both of these chemicals are classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Only 94 products contain pyrethrins without other carcinogen ingredients. Therefore, most products containing pyrethrins continue to be prohibited under LL37 even if the reference to the EPA list was updated.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if it contains PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled not only by NYC’s reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes, but for the City’s very short notice — around 24 hours, that’s it!

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,” said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.

That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
– may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
– cause adverse health effects
– kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies)
– increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
– are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. “That is simply a lie,” said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. In fact, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,” Howard Brandstein added. “Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10” — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”) (more…)

Opera Under the Arch!

Quite the sight to see – and sounds to hear – Opera singers under the Arch!

Tuesday late afternoon, as I was making my way through the Park under the Arch, I encountered Roxanna Christina Walitzki (right) and Katie Kat (left). They are both opera singers and graduate students at NYU Steinhardt. They have been  ‘busking” for years but Katie told me that busking in New York City makes performing opera on the stage – almost – seem easy. The two songs I heard them sing were first a duet “The Cat Duet” by Rossini and Katie Kat sang alone “Deh, Vieni” from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. They tried performing in various locations throughout the park but ultimately determined that the acoustics within the Arch, made it, as Katie Kat stated, “the spot to sing.”

NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe To Talk Privatization of City Parks Tuesday, August 9th at Museum of the City of New York

New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will be a featured speaker next Tuesday, August 9th at 6:30 p.m. at a discussion “Whose Park is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks” at the Museum of the City of New York.

Instead of spending city money wisely on maintenance and staff at parks, Commissioner Benepe, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, continues to overspend, overly redesign our public spaces, and then naively act as if the city is left with no choice but to call in private entities to manage them. Clearly, this is not a model that’s working and not the model we need to ensure our parks remain public in every sense of the word.

This event is an opportunity for the Parks Commissioner to promote his platform of privatization of our public parks. Commissioner Benepe loves to help developers.

At Washington Square, the neighboring community and Community Board 2 have stated outright: “No Private Conservancy.”

EVENT: Whose Park Is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30 PM

In the past 20 years New York City has added over 20,000 acres of parkland to its acclaimed public park system. Recent additions, such as the Hudson River Park, the Highline, and Brooklyn Bridge Park represent a new generation of park design as well as financing and administration.

In an era of budget cuts and declining revenues, how is the city paying for its new parks? How does new park administration differ from the past? What role does private funding play in the administration of the city’s parks? What makes a successful park in today’s New York?

Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe; Alexander Garvin, professor of urban planning, Yale University; and Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance, discuss the past, present, and future of New York’s public parks.

Co-sponsors: Central Park Conservancy, the City Parks Foundation, Civitas, Friends of the Hudson River Park, Friends of the Upper East Side, Hudson River Park and the Prospect Park Alliance.

Tickets and more information at the Museum of the City of New York web site.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED: $12 Non-Members, $8 Seniors and Students, $6 Museum Members, A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants.

Getting to Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street:
By subway: #2, 3 or 6 trains get you there — #6 Lexington Avenue train to 103rd Street; #2/3 train to Central Park North/110th Street.
***************************
Additional background:

See WSP Blog piece on privatization and the High Line.
Also, A Walk in the Park Blog on the Brooklyn Bridge Park housing “deal” reported in the news yesterday.

Summer 2011: The Fountain Plaza At Night

Latest problem at Washington Square: After Rainfall, Flood-like Conditions Impede Pathways — Rocky year for City’s Parks Department

One of the flooded pathways leading to Fountain Plaza

Updated 8:25 a.m. — It’s been a rocky road for the New York City Parks Department at Washington Square Park this year.

Phase II of the controversial redesign of the landmark park was nine months behind schedule – and that was just Phase IIA which opened in June. (Phase IIB – Chess plaza and Southwestern end – still not complete.) The repeated arborcide of trees around the Fountain has not been properly addressed and it’s doubtful there’s a new strategy in place to save future young trees from meeting the same fate of their predecessors. Bloomberg’s folly: The famous fountain, moved from its original location 22 feet east to align with the Arch, after just two years, started falling apart and is still experiencing problems. And now, after rainfall (photos depict scene Friday night), water is building up and not dispersing properly, impeding pathways and causing lake-like conditions near the Fountain Plaza. What’s next? (For why this is happening, keep reading.)

People attempting to navigate the terrain

Lake-like conditions

Drowning Tree

The primary problem is that the Parks Department operating model, as envisioned by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe (appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg), is not sustainable. The agency recklessly spends endless millions out of the “capital projects” budget to create new and spiffy parks without then paying attention as to how to sustain any of them properly. And there’s continually no oversight by the City Council or Community Board.

At Washington Square, the Parks Department callously insisted on tinkering with – and endlessly rearranging – a successful and well liked design. A budget was approved for three phases of construction for $16 Million. It was clear at the onset that the costs would more than double — which is indeed what has happened. The cost is now projected at $30-$35 Million + counting.

This is the New York City Parks Department – care of trees, fountains, water drainage should be City Parks 101. The Parks Department has had a 66% reduction in its work force over the last 20-30 years. Instead of addressing issues related to that, the Parks Commissioner would rather focus on privatizing all the public parks.

The agency persists in expansion-with-no-foreseeable-plan-in-place-for-maintenance-for-the-future. As City Hall News wrote, in a piece entitled “Money Trees,” this [begs] “the question of how much longer the department can keep up its balancing act.”

As we see at Washington Square, not much longer.

**********************************************************

New York Daily News Op-Ed: Why your parks look like this: Because City Hall is slamming them with budget cuts July 3rd, 2011

Photos: Cathryn