Some changes coming…

to the site. Check back!

7/3 – Hi. Apologies for no new posts. I’ve been working on upgrading the site and it’s been a lot of work. Without going into details, I’d prefer to post new posts on the updated site — IF I can get it finished! A few other things are also competing for my attention. Hopefully, it will be soon. Or else, I’ll start posting again. Thanks for stopping by! Stop by again.

Cathryn.

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Hawk and Squirrel Benefit from Fenced-off Construction Area — Taking a Break from the Heat (Photos)

One benefit of the construction at the park is, that, with the fenced-off areas, it gives the wildlife some breathing room (when there’s work not being done, of course). Here, not far from one another, are pictures of one of the fledgling red-tailed hawks and a black squirrel … This was end of last week when it was extremely hot. The hawk had his (or her) mouth open and was almost panting; he had his wings slightly spread out — a few people who stopped by noted that this was because of the heat. I kept wanting to ask … how do you know that? They didn’t seem like the regular hawk-watchers and I’d never heard that tho’ it made sense. These two (squirrel and young hawk) were far enough away from one another tho’ some other squirrels got a bit close for comfort. Rosie (mom hawk) was in a tree not far away within the open Southeastern section of the park. She didn’t stay long – she took off and flew along Washington Square South and it was an amazing sight to witness. No photos of that – it was too awe-inspiring and quick to get a shot but here are some of the others:

Hawk within Phase III construction area

Black squirrel taking a break…

Young hawk closer up…

Notice the way the left leg is jutting out (very Angelina Jolie at the Oscars!)

On ground attempting to hunt and catch…



Photos: Cathryn

WSP Redesign Phase III begins! No Restrooms for one Year? Asbestos Removal from Old Buildings, “Pergola” and New Mounds on the Way

Securing the new fence

Restrooms off limits for one year…

Tree protection remains inadequate…

At last, Phase III (well, technically IV) of Washington Square Park‘s dramatic, lavish redesign began last week! I’ve been working on updating the site so that’s taken some priority lately. Two park activists informed me on the same day that there will be no use of the park’s bathrooms for ONE YEAR while Phase III is ongoing (strange, eh? that replacement temporary units would not be put into play? Not that the WSP bathrooms have ever been a great priority to the Parks Department). The Villager finally began covering the redesign at this late stage and discovered that there is asbestos being removed from the three buildings that are being replaced. Those three small buildings – the men’s and women’s bathrooms and park administrative office – will all become one housed within a “pergola.” (Envision an upscale suburban train station.) As you can imagine, I attended more than a few meetings about Phase III and the new buildings and strangely (?) no one ever mentioned asbestos.

More to come…

Overview of Phase III

To Cool You Off in NYC … The Washington Square Fountain (Photo)

If you can’t be in the fountain today, hopefully looking at it will make you feel cooler!

Photo: Via Instagram from Kate Spade NY on Twitter

Make Music NY comes to NYC Public Spaces including WSP’s Garibaldi Stage Thursday, June 21st 12-4 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.

Make Music NY — at which there are “over 1,000 free outdoor concerts on a single day” at NYC public spaces — will happen again this year on the first day of summer, Thursday, June 21st! The event comes to Washington Square and the Garibaldi Stage (which has the action at the park, just east of the Fountain) with a solar powered stage in the afternoon.

Songwriter’s Beat from 12 noon to 4 p.m.:

Songwriter’s Beat is one of NYC’s premiere nights for performing songwriters – where all are encouraged to perform new material in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

Founded by NYC singer-songwriter Valerie Ghent in 2000, Songwriter’s Beat has presented over 330 songwriters from around the world, hosted over 50 benefit concerts, produced seven annual festivals plus a song contest and has fostered the creation of hundreds of new songs.

Lineup to include: Solar Punch, Marla Mase w/ Tomas Doncker, Valerie Ghent, Fred Gillen w/ Hope Machine, Deborah Berg, Ann Klein, Roshni, and Lucy Foley.

Mass Appeal : Clarinets 5:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

From the choir: For the fourth year, our clarinet choir is performing in the Make Music New York music festival. We’re playing on June 21st, from 6 to 7 pm, in Washington Square Park. It’s free, the setting is beautiful, and the sound is terrific! We’re playing a mix of great old and new pieces by Brahms, Dvorak, Mozart, Grundman, and Ravel, among others.

Everything’s free! To find another location in the city, visit this page.

Make Music NY website.

The End of the Parks Commissioner’s Reign

updated 2:35 p.m.

Adrian Benepe at WSP Phase I Opening Ceremony 2009

In the news… big news, in the parks and public space domain: NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has resigned and will be leaving his position around Labor Day. Commissioner Benepe oversaw the controversial redesign of Washington Square Park and was caught in a web of … shall we call them… untruths at times. Rather than focus on items that might not be quite so media-worthy, such as proper maintenance of our existing parks, his calling, for the last ten years under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leaned towards splashy redesigns and planting a million trees. These undertakings left out serious forethought as to how to maintain either aspect. The result? Continued and overwhelming dependence was shifted to private dollars with large disparities in the amount of money, love and attention given to ‘other’ parks across the five boroughs. (Oh, and a number of dead trees.)

From Mayor Bloomberg’s quotes yesterday (below), he is quite happy to continue that model with Adrian Benepe’s replacement, Veronica White, someone with no background in parks or public spaces — like many of Mike Bloomberg’s recent choices who are positioned at the helm of city agencies without related experience. (Ms. White gets some points for citing the position as her “dream job.”) Commissioner Benepe was appointed at the beginning of Bloomberg’s (seemingly never-ending) tenure and had already risen through the ranks of the Parks Department. Benepe will be going on to further the private-public model across the country, according to The New York Times, despite the problems found with the model.

From the NY Daily News, NYC Parks Commissioner Benepe to leave post he’s held for 10 years alongside Mayor Bloomberg

Adrian Benepe, one of the few top officials who has been with the administration since Bloomberg took office in 2002, is set to take a job at the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

He will be replaced by Veronica White, executive director of the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity.

“I’ve been joined at the hip with the Parks Department,” said Benepe, who got his first parks job as a teenager in the summer of 1973 cleaning bathrooms and picking up trash. “You never want to leave. But you can’t be emperor forever. Sometimes there’s the risk of overstaying your welcome. And there would have been no guarantees after next year [when Bloomberg’s term ends].”

The city has added 730 acres of parks under Benepe, including glitzy new spots like Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line.

White is set to take over around Labor Day. “It’s been my dream job forever,” she said.

New York Times, His Domain Transformed, Parks Chief Is Leaving:

At the Trust for Public Land, Mr. Benepe will promote the public-private partnership model, an environmentally minded infrastructure and wider access to parks to cities across the country.

Ms. White’s work at the economic opportunity center has followed the same mold. Mr. Bloomberg praised her record of “exploring innovative partnerships and attracting private funds,” skills that should serve her well as parks commissioner. …

Yet Mr. Benepe was not without critics. Some people objected to his turning to private sources for the money to pay for park maintenance, like the plan for upscale housing to underwrite Brooklyn Bridge Park and the twice-yearly fashion shows that take over Damrosch Park next to Lincoln Center.

Mr. Benepe also clashed with vendors and artists over the city’s efforts to rein in commerce in parks. And there have been complaints that the upkeep of the city’s many existing parks has been sacrificed for lavish expenditures on a few new gems.

“We’re classic victims of our own success,” said Holly M. Leicht, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group. “All the attention paid to the beautiful new parks has created a certain complacency about the state of the existing parks. There’s a disconnect between the capital investments and the depletion of the maintenance budgets.”

Village Voice, Adrian Benepe’s Resignation: Will Changes in Parks and Recreation Affect Artists?

DNAinfo: Adrian Benepe Resigns as Parks Commissioner & Meet the New Parks Commissioner, Veronica White

Wall Street Journal, Parks Chief Steps Down after 10 Years

Previous posts here at WSP Blog:

* A Quiz on NYC’s Parks Commissioner

* NYC’s Parks Department: 2/3 cuts in workers and endless privatization schemes

* Part I of II: NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe Responds to WSP Blog Concerns February 2, 2009

* Part II: My Response to the Parks Commissioner Regarding Washington Square Park Redesign February 13, 2009

* Privatizations, Concessions and New York City Parks

* Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Washington Sq Park May 28, 2009

Other interesting background reading:

WNYC, Shake Shack $$$: Bad for City Parks? September 14, 2010

Next American City, The High Cost of Free Parks, award-winning piece by Patrick Arden

Park Slope Patch, Which Park is it, Anyway? by Johanna Clearfield on Commissioner Benepe talk at Museum of the City of New York

Photos: Cathryn

Chichi, Sweet Male Tabby Cat & Staff “Favorite,” Still Hanging on at Manhattan ACC Shelter Needs Some Help — (Now)

Chichi!

I wrote last week about Chichi, a 7 year old male cat who desperately needs a home. This sweet tabby is at the Manhattan ACC (Animal Care & Control) after being sadly relinquished by his family. Well, even more wonderful information has been discovered about him! I updated Chichi’s info here. Can you give this guy, a “gentle giant” and shelter “favorite” who “stole” one volunteer’s heart, a new chance at life?

Adopt Chichi ! visit Pet Harbor here.

Idyllic Saturday at the Park: Music, Fountain, Open Lawn … Hawks! (And More.)

This looks like an idyllic Saturday at the park on the NW end with music, the fountain in the background, the lawn (for the most part) open…

And then… you realize there’s a hawk above taking it all in!

juvenile hawk…

This is one of the neighborhood juvenile hawks… Boo or Scout (so named by New York Times‘ readers, in a nod to “To Kill a Mockingbird”), child to Rosie and Bobby. Other wild life was abundant as well including…

A flock of pigeons swoop through the sky…

Sparrow people-watching on to open lawn

A monarch butterfly…

this colorful performance troupe was practicing on Garibaldi stage

Just a snapshot of what was going on…
Photos: Cathryn

French Film #2 “On the Green” at Washington Square Tonight: La Guerre Des Boutons (War of the Buttons)

Wonderful atmosphere and energy last week for French film #1 “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” part of “Films On the Green” a program featuring French films presented at parks throughout the city all summer by the French Embassy and the Parks Department. It is definitely worth going at least once to see a film at WSP under the Arch/on the Fountain Plaza. (Last one this summer as far as I know unless more are being planned.) Tonight, Friday, June 15th 8:30 p.m. Free.

the set up by the Arch

the audience awaits the start of the film…

excellent DJ from WNYU pre-screening

the film under way

Full info for tonight’s film WAR OF THE BUTTONS | LA GUERRE DES BOUTONS Directed by Yves Robert, 1962, France, Comedy (English subtitles).

Park’s Lawns North, South, East & West Open (for the most part)!

This happened late last week but I didn’t have a chance to post it until now. After wondering when the majority of the park’s lawn would open after 2 months closed for “restoration” (projected time initially: one month), most of the park lawn is now open for use !

eastern end

west of the Arch…