Mayor Bloomberg’s Washington Square Park Redesign: Over budget. Delayed. And NYU can’t even hold their graduation ceremony there…

Not this year...

Not this year...

Well, that blogging break lasted one day but I have a bit of information for you … NYU has announced that this year’s graduation ceremony will again take place at Yankee Stadium (the new one for which close to 400 trees and 1.5 parks in the Bronx were sacrificed*) because Washington Square Park, their favored graduation spot, will still be under construction by the May 13th date.

New York University President John Sexton announced yesterday that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the speaker at the commencement and she will also receive an honorary degree. According to Mazza First Hand Source Blog, they are now saying (who exactly “they” are is unknown) the park will open “late spring 2009” (note: at all the meetings I’ve attended, the Parks Department has declined to give a time frame) and, as MFHS writes, “which we really know, judging from construction-speak, is probably Summer 2009 at the earliest.”

NYU has used Washington Square Park as the site of its graduation ceremony for 32 of its 177 years of commencement ceremonies. (It’s been tradition that the students jump into the famed fountain at the end of the ceremony.)

In 2008, the first in which NYU used Yankee Stadium as its graduation site, it was believed that location was a one time thing and that Washington Square Park’s reconstruction would be finished in time for the 2009 ceremony. But as the project is delayed, it is also over budget.

The original budget for the dramatic redesign of Washington Square Park, once $16 million, is now close to $30 million, if not more. Money that could be spent on other vital NYC services (elder centers? libraries? police officers? fire houses? day care centers? park maintenance perhaps?). But Mayor Bloomberg’s bluster about his unique ability to save New York City in a budget crisis continues. (What creative, innovative thing is he doing that any other Mayor wouldn’t? Have we heard any brilliant financial advice from him? No.)

NYU gave a rather paltry $1 million towards the park’s redesign. They consider Washington Square Park part of their campus and they own basically all the real estate surrounding the park. As we know, in NYC, real estate talks. NYU is definitely playing a behind-the-scenes role in Washington Square Park’s radical overhaul. So, it is a shame that the park is not ready for this year’s graduation so that this very important ceremony could take place in their Park, don’t ya think?

As I wrote last year, I think NYU and Yankee Stadium are perfect together.
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* Related WSP Blog Post: Play Ball: How New York City destroyed Two Bronx parks

NYU and Yankee Stadium: Perfect Together for all Future Graduation Ceremonies (Skip Washington Sq Park as Venue for Next 32 Years)

Washington Square Park Set up for NYU Graduation Venue in Previous YearsWednesday’s (5/14) NYU graduation ceremony attracted widespread media attention because of graduating student William Lopez’s attempt to run all the bases at the venue, Yankee Stadium.

The Daily News somewhat mildly cites “ongoing construction” as the reason NYU had to switch to Yankee Stadium after 32 years of graduation ceremonies at Washington Square Park.

The photo above shows Washington Square Park set up for NYU’s graduation ceremony in 2006 — before the trees were cut down, the fountain dismantled, the Arch was behind gates.

I have no attachment to NYU utilizing Washington Square Park for their graduation. The University uses the Arch, the Park, Washington Square when it suits them, as p.r. and in all their advertising, while they crush every other historic Village building in their path to erect more dorms and monstrous structures. There are many theories linking NYU and the “renovation” (read: redesign) of Washington Square Park. Some assert that the “ongoing construction” is very much about making the Park more “picture perfect” for … NYU’s graduation ceremony.

The University clearly has no sense of humor or spontaneity — they barred Lopez from attending a post-graduation event at Madison Square Garden.

I’d like to propose that NYU continues using Yankee Stadium as their graduation ceremony venue for the next 32 years. Since Yankee Stadium owners (also with the complicity of New York City government) crushed two parks in the Bronx for their own “reconstruction,” it would be much more fitting that these two corporate behemoths utilize one another.