WSP Performance Crackdown; NYU Expansion on CB2 Parks Committee Agenda Tonight, Thurs. Jan. 12th

Updated

The WSP performance crackdown is on the agenda at tonight’s Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting, 6:30 p.m. Our Lady of Pompeii Church, 25 Carmine Street, Father Demo Hall (enter on Bleecker) [venue has been changed from what was previously announced].

The addressing of the controversial new rules (on hold temporarily) is now scheduled for an “executive session.” Previously announced as an opportunity for public comment; it was stated that this topic was being moved to February’s meeting in order “to allow more time for public comment.”

Now, the CB2 website states, that, during the closed session, the committee “will consider a resolution reiterating a prior position opposing a Parks Department rule regarding public expression in parks and including its recent use to restrict un-amplified performances in Washington Square.”

Update from CB2 Chair Brad Hoylman: It was decided that there had been “enough public comment” and that “It’s not fair to ask people to come out again (and again, and…).” He is hoping that a resolution will be drafted by the committee.

The main part of the meeting which is open for public comment focuses on the “NYU 2031 Campus Expansion Plan.” I’d be curious to see how (Parks Committee Chair) Tobi Bergman handles this group since he dodges a bit on issues related to WSP (and gets away with it).

This is certain to recruit a large crowd. There will be a presentation of the plan and discussion of how NYU’s plans affect “open space and related issues” as well as NYC Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). It is noted that “Public input at this hearing will inform the Community Board 2 recommendation.

Alternate View on Performers at WSP – Time Limits?

The WSP performance crackdown has, seemingly, temporarily subsided and will be addressed at the CB2 Parks Committee meeting tonight.

In the meantime, a neighbor, Seth W. who lives at 2 Fifth Avenue wrote in as follows:

I live in 2 Fifth and face the arch and have always enjoyed the music echoing in but now it has become disruptive. My position is simply: let music be part of Washington Square Park so long as the performers vary their music and do not stay more than one hour so that we can hear different musicians and instruments. VARIETY is what is needed and not the same music like those singers who now are found outside the Met Museum of art doing the same songs over and over. Send these musicians who also put out their hats or music cases like the banjo player, etc. to the Met, keep our park open to musicians who have practiced and come to give a performance for no longer than an hour and move on.

Seth writes, that, for him, the music became more noticeably disruptive (my word, not his) in the Fall. He says that certain performers are “most egregious in staying too long and … never stopping and endlessly repeating their solos.”

At the CB2 meeting last month, more than one performer cited the Arch as having perfect acoustics and, indeed, the Opera Gals told me “the Arch is the spot to sing.”

Seth also believes that “NO MUSIC be performed under the arch for it is an echo chamber that blasts onto 5th Ave and into our apartments. I will defend the right for music to be played in the park but limits are needed and stopped by 10 at night.”

To me, this becomes a slippery slope – the minute you attempt to put restrictions on this and the Parks Department’s way of going about this is bad enough. I’m open to airing an alternative viewpoint. Why any sound issues would have changed more recently from 50 years of performances in the park; what the park is known for, I don’t know.

Name the New Washington Square Park Gal Hawk; Voting Ends Today After Voter “Fraud” at New York Times Site

Updated(at end)

Squirrel and New Gal Hawk Play?

Updated – So the New York Times is running a poll to choose the name for the new Washington Square Park hawk. I was never quite able to ID Violet over Bobby – never really seeing them too close either – but the “new gal in town” has a very distinctive RED tail. Yes, they are red-tailed hawks but this is veryred and, when she flies, it really shows.

Some people started calling her Noelle when she appeared Christmas Eve Day but, then, I think perhaps Roger_Paw started calling her Rosie based on her distinctive red markings. That name resonated with me. She’s very much a Rosie, strong and spunky. Whereas Noelle; it’s a beautiful name, but, for this hawk, it sounds a bit … I don’t know… meek.

Anyway, you can take part in the poll over here at the New York Times.

Note: there was voter fraud (!) so they are redoing the poll – it ends at 1:43 p.m. today!

I learned a lot from the hawk watchers at the park on Sunday. I was quite worried about the squirrel in the above photo (so priceless the look between the hawk and the squirrel – maybe I’ll try editing it a bit later edited) but one woman told me that the squirrels taunt the hawks to see how far they “can go.”

And it did indeed seem this way. “Rosie” would make a slight move with her wings as if to go for the squirrel and the squirrel would immediately dart away. The squirrel even going as far as up to the branch she was on.

The hawk watcher told me that the squirrels also can wrap themselves around trees so they are not quite so easy to catch. (Although, she noted, “Rosie” did catch one on the ground the other day.) New Gal Hawk knew this squirrel was not a viable option as she stopped paying attention, preening and cleaning herself although every once in awhile she’d do a little jab in the squirrel’s direction. She didn’t seem too fixated whereas I was sitting there on pins and needles.

Oh! Also, she was bringing twigs to the former nest outside NYU President John Sexton’s office on the 12th floor of the Bobst Library that day. (Note — it is not confirmed that they are officially a couple.)

Update! Rosie won.

Sunday at the Square — Trees Recycled; Kites Fly; Hawks Swoop In; Squirrels and Pigeons Hold Their Ground; Park Remains Under Construction

The Arch Amidst Tree Recycling Event

A Tree Arrives for the Chipper

Girl Gathers Mulch Amidst Mulch Hilltop

First Sighting of One Hawk On NYU Library

Woman flies Kite around the Fountain

Gaining Speed ...

Bobby and New Gal in WSP Tree

Pigeons and Friends Pre-Hawks Arrival

Pigeons Take Flight; People Actually Duck

Wondrous Pigeons in Flight

Sparrows Camouflaged in Tree

I first noticed this squirrel chattering... (to left of sign)

Moments before running up the tree female hawk was now in

Gal Hawk and Black Squirrel Taunt Each Other (look closely in brown box)

Note: this was quite nerve wracking; it occurred on the southern end of the park behind fencing. It took awhile but, at last, the hawk – the new female who has a very distinctive red tail – flew to another branch and the squirrel was safe!

New Gal (Alternately called Noelle or Rosie)

SW Quadrant Remains Under Construction

Trees were Dropped off -- after Event had Ended

The Tree at the Arch Remains Lit


Photos: Cathryn

Daisy at Manhattan Animal Care & Control Needs a Home Now!

Daisy Needs a Home!

Update 1/17: Rescued! But there’s so many more that need our help —

This lovely black & white cat, Daisy, is on a “First Alert” list and probably doesn’t have much time. At the city shelter, ACC – Animal Care & Control – cats (and dogs) get put on a death list if they catch a cold which inevitably most do or if they are scared and exhibit a temper. Daisy is a three year old female who has been at the Manhattan location since December 10th. She came from zip code 10032 which I believe is Inwood or Manhattanville and is such a cutie. You can see more at this Facebook page.

I’ve written a bunch about the ACC here on this blog. You can read some background about the ACC here – 13,000 animals were killed in 2009.

Daisy needs a home now. Remember Don’t Shop, Adopt!

p.s. black & white cats happen to typically be wonderful.

Photo: West 4th and Greene

Recycle Your Tree at WSP This Weekend by the Arch – Keep Your Tree Out of the Landfill

People Started Dropping Off Early near Arch?

“MulchFest” comes to Washington Square Park this weekend Saturday, January 7th and Sunday, January 8th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by the Arch. You can recycle your tree in the chipper into mulch at locations throughout the city. This is coordinated by the Parks Department and the Department of Sanitation. Keep your tree out of the landfill! You can get some mulch at the drop-off sites.

Curbside pick up of trees is ongoing this year from January 3rd to January 12th. Whether dropping off or leaving on the curb, remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from trees.

I always find it a bit sad watching trees go in the chipper. One year, when the Department of Sanitation canceled curbside pickup, a group I worked with, Recycle This!, went around picking up discarded trees on the streets of Brooklyn! I wrote about that here.

Mayor Bloomberg Puts Tree in the Chipper

Million Dead Trees?

Community Meeting on NYU Plan 2031 Tonight Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 6:30 p.m.

NYU’s 2031 plan certainly impacts the area around Washington Square Park.

From the flyer for tonight’s town hall meeting sponsored by Community Board 2, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031, and a number of local Greenwich Village Block Associations:

NYU is seeking City approvals to add 2.5 million square feet of space – the equivalent of the Empire State Building! – to the blocks south of Washington Square Park!

One aspect I’ll be reporting more on in the future is the Sasaki Garden at Washington Square Village. For more information, see this recent post at the Local Ecologist Blog: Endangered Sasaki Garden.

A meeting addressing the overall plan will be held tonight, Wednesday, January 4th, at 6:30 pm at the AIA – Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place between Bleecker and W. 3rd St..

From the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:

With the new year upon us, it’s time to gear up for the seven-month public hearing and approval process for NYU’s massive and precedent-setting twenty-year expansion plan (see images and more info HERE).  Either we stop the plan now, or we live with it and its consequences forever.

To get organized and informed, and to start letting decision-makers know you want them to vote AGAINST the plan, come to the Town Hall meeting this Wednesday at 6:30 pm at the AIA, 536 LaGuardia Place (Bleecker/W. 3rd St.).  More than fifty community groups from the Village, East Village, SoHo, Chelsea, and Union Square are co-sponsoring the meeting.  Please post and circulate the flyer HERE.

Times and locations have now been set for the following Community Board #2 public hearings on the NYU plan (CB 2 will vote on the plan in February based upon January’s public hearings – this is the first official step in the public review and approval process).

  • Monday, January 9th, 6:00 pm, CB 2 Zoning Committee, AIA 536 LaGuardia Place (Bleecker/W. 3rd).  NYU will present its plans; the Zoning Committee will make recommendations to CB 2 regarding the zoning changes NYU is seeking to allow its plan to move ahead.  A STRONG TURNOUT AT THIS MEETING IS CRITICAL!  (Note: NYU is the second item on the agenda for this meeting.)
  • Thursday, January 12th, 6:30 pm, CB 2 Parks Committee, NYU Silver Bldg., 32 Waverly Pl. (Wash. Sq. E.), rm. 713.  The Parks Committee will review NYU’s proposals to take over and build upon open space and green space and make recommendations to the CB 2.  A STRONG TURNOUT AT THIS MEETING IS CRITICAL!
  • There will also be hearings on the traffic impacts of NYU’s plan on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 6:30 pm at the NYU Silver Bldg., 32 Waverly Pl. (Wash. Sq. E.), rm. 520, on its impact upon schools and social services on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 6:30 pm at Judson Church Meeting room, 55 Wash. Sq. So. (Thompson St.) (note: NYU is the second item on the agenda at this meeting)
  • and on its environmental impacts on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 pm at the Tony Dapolito Rec. Ctr., 1 Clarkson St. (Carmine/7th Av. So.).

Washington Square Park at Dawn Fall 2011 (Recycled Entry)

Recycled Entry – These are some of my favorite photos of the Park.

Washington Square, 6 A.M. Tuesday 11/15, hours after Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park-based movement ousted:

The Arch At Dawn

Morning / Fall at the Park

Fountain Plaza

Judson Church Washington Square South

Judson Supports Occupy Wall Street

Looking North - Park Empty

SouthEast Entrance to Park Barely Open

I fixed that

Photos: Cathryn

New York Daily News: Musicians performing again at Washington Square

Philippe Petit Washington Square

New York Daily News, January 1st: Street artists say they’re performing again without fear of big fines in Washington Square Park

Artists who had been slapped with huge fines for performing in Washington Square Park say the rule is no longer being enforced — and many of their outstanding tickets were suddenly dismissed.

Maybe they are re-thinking their approach,” said Colin Huggins, who said he’s been hit with nine summonses totaling $6,000 for playing his baby grand piano between the park’s famed arch and its empty fountain.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department insisted “the rules remain in effect.”

Still, performers say they haven’t been hassled in the three weeks since civil rights heavyhitters Ronald Kuby and Norman Siegel took the case on behalf of the ticketed buskers.

They are due back in court Jan. 31.

The rule, which applies to parks citywide, went into effect about a year ago and prohibits artists who collect tips from performing within 50 feet of a monument or landmark. It wasn’t until October that performers reported being hit with the steep fines.

At a recent community board meeting, Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Williams Castro hinted the city may be re-considering the rules.

We are mindful of the concerns raised by some park patrons and we are further reviewing the impact of these rules in Washington Square Park,” Castro said.

Note photo above of Philippe Petit at WSPthe two trees that he used to perform between at Washington Square were torn down last year; despite assurances from the Parks Department that they would remain.

Previously on WSP Blog: Performance Crackdown at the Park — Parks Commissioner says Bob Dylan Could Still Play at WSP; With New Rules, Is That even True? December 6, 2011

Photo via New York Daily News: Mario Tama/Getty Images