Stop Mayor Bloomberg from Destroying Washington Square Park

Stop Mayor Bloomberg from Destroying Washington Square Park

Stop Mayor Bloomberg from Destroying Our Park

This flyer counters the NYC Parks Department’s spin on what is actually happening behind the fencing to Washington Square Park at the hands of the Bloomberg Administration. It’s been pretty effective since people read it quite thoroughly. The question everyone asks is “Why?” The flyer attempts to answer the question while putting into context the politics and involvement of everyone from Mayor Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to private interests like New York University and the Tisch Family in the unwelcome redesign of this dynamic public space.

However, there are still things that can be done:

1. No Conservancy: We want Washington Square Park to remain a public park without corporate influence.

2. Preserve the Seating Alcoves Along the Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Edges. In the redesign plan, these areas are scheduled to be removed. People utilize and enjoy them for reading, music, studying, talking. They further contribute to the charm of the park.

3. Maintain the public space around the Fountain. Numbers vary as to whether the entire Plaza will lose up to 23% of its valuable public space. The NYC Parks Department has been less than forthcoming in confirmation of this number.

4. Save the Park’s Trees. Work all existing, mature trees into the design. They are part of our urban habitat and deserve to be treated as living entities that are an integral part of Washington Square Park.  (At least 14 of the Park’s trees have been axed thus far in Phase I of the redesign.)

5. Change the Planned Fencing. The height of the fence at 3 feet has been a core design element of the park and is welcoming and desired. The fence being installed is 4 feet (which makes quite a bit of difference) and contains decorative spears on top in direct violation of the Parks Department “agreement” with Council Member Alan Gerson and Speaker Christine Quinn.

6. Save the “Teen Plaza” and maintain height of the stage. This stage has worked well for many years for the Washington Square Music Festival and other events. The current height is 36″. The proposed height of the stage at 22″ is much too low for classical music performances and other usage (protests, other performances, etc.).

7. Leave the Dog Runs as they are. Moving every piece of this park at this time does not make sense.

Write in with any and all ideas, of course.

Read an expanded version of the flyer’s information here.

1 Year Ago: Community Board 2 Rescinds its Approval of Parks Department’s Washington Sq Park Plans

On April 19, 2007, Manhattan’s Community Board 2 rescinded its approval of Bloomberg’s plan to bulldoze and rebuild Washington Square Park. Happy Anniversary!

All, right, technically the Board gave the City until May 9, 2007, to adequately respond to questions that had been raised; otherwise, the approval would be rescinded. Which is what happened when the Parks Department ignored the Community Board’s directive.

While Community Board votes are largely considered “advisory,” officials like to cite Community Board decisions to validate their projects when those decisions go in their favor. In the case of Washington Square Park, Parks Commissioner Benepe falsely cites in his letters that he had the approval of the local Community Board, and ignores the inconvenient fact that the Board had rescinded their previous approval.

Here are the Minutes from the April 19th, 2007 Community Board meeting at which the Board took back its approval.

COMMUNITY BOARD 2 Manhattan MINUTES
DATE: April 19, 2007

13 3. Washington Square Park

WHEREAS, the Appellate Divisions opinion affirmed Community Board 2’s legal right to be fully informed and provided with accurate plans for review, irrespective of the Parks Department adherence to the Board’s recommendation

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Community Board 2 will rescind its prior approval of the plans for renovation of Washington Square Park effective May 9, 2007 unless before such date the Parks Department presents for review and examination its current plans for renovation to the full Community Board 2, the Community Board 2 Park and Waterfront Committee or to the Washington Square Park Task Force; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Community Board 2 calls on our elected officials, most especially City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilman Alan Gerson, State Senator Tom Duane, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and Borough President Scott Stringer, to use their respective offices to urge the Parks Department to appear before the Community Board and/or the Washington Square Park Task Force and present its detailed plans for Washington Square Park before any contracts are put out to bid and work of any nature is performed in connection with the renovation of Washington Square Park.

Vote: Passed, with 42 Board members in favor and 5 in opposition.