Daily Metro Reports Parks Department Says “No Way” to Anonymous Wealthy Donors’ Plans to “better” Washington Sq Park with their private security Force

Daily paper Metro NY checked in with the NYC Parks Department about yesterday’s report in the New York Post that wealthy but anonymous donors, in addition to New York University, acting as part of a self-appointed entity called “The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park,” were scheduled to hire private “off duty NYPD” cops to police Washington Square Park.  

From today’s Metro:

The Parks Department would not consider such a proposal,” a Parks spokeswoman said. “The NYPD is responsible for crime prevention throughout the city, including in all parks.”

She noted that one member of the Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park — a group of block associations, Fifth Avenue co-ops and others“expressed interest” in raising money to hire off-duty officers, but said the park is already staffed by Park Enforcement Patrol officers paid for, in part, by NYU

It does raise the question why Gil Horowitz, et al. (we don’t know who the “et al.” are because they won’t reveal who they are!) were so sure their plan was going to proceed and be implemented that they allowed themselves to be quoted extensively in the Post.  I imagine they considered that story quite a feather in their cap.  So… despite the supposed nixing of the private security, will their plans to pay for “maintenance” in the park proceed?  And will they still be meeting with Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe as stated in the article?  There’s probably more to this story, don’t ya think?

Photographer Stacy Walsh Rosenstock weighed in with her thoughts in response to WSP Blog’s post on the topic yesterday with yet another insightful comment:

A security force to protect “the investments made in the park?” Perhaps there’s a dastardly plan to move the fountain 23 feet to the west? Lounge on a closed lawn? Or worse, walk on one of the chain fences?

And what will these security patrols do when they do apprehend such quality of life offenders? Issue a citizen’s violation? Isn’t hiring private security forces to monitor all the plain clothes and under cover police posing as criminals in the park like the tail wagging the dog?

But just to add to the equation, wasn’t Washington Square Park one of the first locations to have NYPD surveillance cameras installed back during the Giuliani administration? Maybe the primary function of this new security patrol can polish the lenses of the surveillance cameras.

NY Post Reports New Washington Square “Coalition” comprised of anonymous wealthy donors and NYU. Privatization of Park begins?

In today’s New York Post, we’re informed of a new “coalition:”  “The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park.”  

The name and article bring up a lot of questions:  Who doesn’t want a better Washington Square Park but who decides what’s “better?”  … The people who wanted the fountain aligned and plaza leveled and trees cut down?  The people who are concerned about their real estate values?  People who have money to throw around and yet won’t reveal who they are?  

The article reveals that the new “coalition’s” goal is “beefed up security” at the Park made up of “off duty NYPD cops” to rid the park of “druggies and lowlifes.”  Yet, the individual people in the group – the ones funding it – won’t reveal who they are except for front man, neighborhood resident and sometime agitator, Gil Horowitz.  

I’ve noted a lot of police at the park since it reopened and they basically have nothing to do.  The Parks Department has explained at length to those who are concerned why it is difficult to curtail any questionable pot dealings in the park so why would NYPD “off duty” cops make the park anything but more… policed?

What we do know is that NYU is involved so an alarm bell goes off right there as to this new group’s intentions.

A step towards further privatization, perhaps?

From the article in New York Post:

Washington Square Park tokers, beware!

A group of “wealthy, high-level” Greenwich Village residents plans to hire a security force of off-duty NYPD cops to keep the refurbished bohemian playpen from returning to its bad old days as an open-air drug market, The Post has learned.

“The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park” — which is made up of area co-op boards and NYU — says it wants to protect the great strides made there, including a multimillion-dollar face lift paid for, in part, by the Tisch family.

“There are wealthy New Yorkers that are public-minded,” said coalition founder Dr. Gil Horowitz, a longtime parkgoer and resident of lower Fifth Avenue. “We have brought together some very high-level people in order to get this done.”

Washington Sq Pk Turned Upside Down

Washington Sq Pk Turned Upside Down

And then this:

The powerbroker donors have thus far opted for anonymity.

“We just want people to respect the investments made in the park,” said Adelaide Polsinelli of the Presidents Roundtable, a coalition of Village locals.

Whose investments?  The Tisch Family? NYU?  The local Business Improvement District?

At least the story gets another viewpoint in there from lawyer Ron Kuby:

But longtime Village resident, lawyer Ron Kuby, expressed concern.

“I think the rich folk who are sponsoring this want to change the character of the park from the free-wheeling street-theater scene to something that resembles their backyard terraces,” he said.

Let’s stop this before it begins. Ideas, anyone?