Washington Square Park Maintenance Issues Remain Unaddressed, City Opts To Place Ineffective and Hawk-Killing Rodenticide in Park (See Update: Rodenticide Removed!)

Updated!

Overflow trash in open top containers

8:24 p.m. — Good news! Roger Paw blogger wrote in to say that the bait boxes have been removed! See more info from that blog here. Now, if the park maintenance issues can be addressed…

Original post follows —

Washington Square Park has been rodenticide-free for awhile – but no longer. Rodenticide bait traps have been placed in locations in the park. (I had a feeling this was coming.)

Throughout New York City this year, Red-tailed hawks have been poisoned by “secondary poisoning” (eating a poisoned rat). Rodenticide is not the answer. Proper maintenance of trash is the only solution —  this has been proven again and again, and yet, at Washington Square, containment of the park’s trash is a serious problem. This is a Parks Department maintenance issue and also education issue of park users. However, if trash cans are full and not emptied, that compounds the problem.

The latest from Hawk cam chat member City Woman who writes:

Many devoted hawk watchers spent the last few weeks writing and calling various City officials concerning plans we learned of to put rat poison in Washington Square Park. Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that our pleas fell on deaf ears as evidence of the lack of commitment to a poison-free sanitation plan for the park was revealed by posts from photographer/blogger Roger_Paw.

The only real control of rodents comes from proper sanitation. What is so disappointing and frustrating about the Parks Department decision is that there is so much room for improvement in this park. To even think of risking the life of the hawks, who are seen in the park almost daily and get many of their meals there, through the secondary poisoning that can occur when a non-target animal eats a poisoned rat is disgraceful. Their decision shows no real commitment to getting to the root of the problem; they are only going for the quick temporary fix.

Bobby and Rosie, Washington Square’s Red-tailed Hawks

The pictures were taken in the park this past Saturday by a member of Stop the Poison (STP), a group formed to oppose the use of poisons in our parks.

Currently, almost all trash cans in Washington Square Park have open tops. If, the trash is not removed by evening or tops are not put on the cans, there is an open invitation to rats. In addition, a walk through the park, reveals almost no signage about proper disposal of food and the reasons why it is needed.

Washington Square Park could be a perfect location to show how proper sanitary methods can decrease the rodent population, if not completely, at least substantially, without the use of poison.

Suggestions made to NYC Parks Department officials by Stop The Poison:

Solar powered waste compactors (as used in Philadelphia and other locations)
Rat-proof garbage cans
Rodent-repellent trash bags
Summonses for littering
Carry in, Carry out waste policy (bring your lunch or snack with you; take your garbage out with you)
Revision of landscaping that is conducive to rat tunnels

Please ask your readers to insist that a commitment be demonstrated to make the park a model of excellence in bringing all possible resources and expertise to bear rather than resorting to toxic poisons that make each meal a lethal game of chance for our precious wildlife.

“Discarded trash everywhere! In flower beds, under benches, under trees … accumulated for days!”

In addition, a reader, Brant, sent in this comment earlier in the week:

In Washington Square Park this morning (October 6, 2012) and found it so disgusting ! Discarded trash everywhere ! In flower beds, under benches, under trees, everywhere!!!!
The people responsible for cleaning the park are incredibly inept!
We are not talking about trash that accumulated overnight but for many days!
Not only that for a few blocks on each side of University Place, not one garbage pail! Not one!
What will be done? I will contact immediately 311, and for what it’s worth, complain to them as well as the Sanitation Department!

Washington Square East

“Rats” author (and NY resident) Robert Sullivan very clear on how ineffective rodenticide is

I’ve written before on this blog about the problem of rodenticide in our city parks — seven or eight new york city hawks have died this year alone – and would like to reiterate the following (which the Parks Department should know):

Author Robert Sullivan, who studied rats in the city and wrote about his discoveries in his book, “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants,” states that removing garbage and the rats’ food source is the key, even tho’ no one considers that was the “sexier” solution – it IS the solution.

Sullivan consulted with David E. Davis, the “founding father of modern rat studies” who determined:

“when rats are killed off, the pregnancy rates of the surviving rats double and the survivors rapidly gain weight. The rats that survive become stronger. ‘Actually, the removal merely made room for more rats,’ Davis wrote.”

When I told reader Brant that the city’s Parks Department was putting poison out, he said:

Rat poison is the easy way out !
It’s again, putting a band-aid on the problem !  One must be pro-active and they, are reactive !

So true.

This would be an opportunity for new Parks Commissioner Veronica White to take a position her predecessor, Adrian Benepe, would not. Instead of focusing on privatizing public parks, how about creating better models of our existing ones?

 __________________________________________________________________________________

What you can DO; Suggestions from City Woman and Stop the Poison:

Following are some of the NYC Parks Department officials people can write or call:

Veronica M. White, NYC Parks Commissioner, Veronica.White@parks.nyc.gov
First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, liam.kavanagh@parks.nyc.gov phone #212-360-1307
William T. Castro, NYC Dep’t of Parks, Manhattan Borough Commissioner: william.castro@parks.nyc.gov; #212-408-0201
Namshik Yoon, Chief of Operations, Namshik.Yoon@parks.nyc.gov; #212-408-0212
Ralph Musolino, Park Manager, Manhattan District 1 & 2; Ralph.Musolino@parks.nyc.gov; #212-797-3142

And here are some things individuals can do to help:
IF YOU WANT TO SAVE OUR HAWKS: Do Not Use Mouse and Rat Poisons, Pellets or Blocks on Your Property
1.) Tell your building management to use covered, latching trash containers and traps instead of poison.
2.) Educate your local institutions and merchants to do the same.
3.) Ask government officials to support a ban on the sale of anticoagulant rodenticides (five California cities have done so).
4.) CONTACT STOPTHEPOISON@AOL.COM to find out what else you can do.

Photos 1 & 3: Stop The Poison

Middle Photo: Bobby & Rosie in Washington Square Park, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Credit: Roger_Paw Blog

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“Chunk” of the Washington Square Arch Falls To Ground Overnight Sunday


NY1 reports that a “chunk” of the Washington Square Arch fell off to the ground overnight between Sunday and Monday. It happened when the Park was closed and no one was injured. The piece of the monument which “crashed to the sidewalk” was 6 inches by 10 inches according to the Parks Department.

From NY1:

Crews are working to inspect and repair the arch in Washington Square Park after a piece of it broke off and fell to the ground. …

No one was hurt.

The area has been cordoned off until crews can make repairs.

The structure underwent a $3 million restoration in 2006.

I reached out to the Parks Department for further information such as — who will be hired to figure out if something is wrong structurally, what the repair process is, etc. I will update accordingly. It’s a bit scary to say the least since there could easily have been someone there – there would have been – if it had happened at any time the park was open.

Chalkupy Wall Street “Day of Play” and Musicians’ Jam Via Fandalism Hit the Park Saturday

Free spirits of all ages and shapes and sizes showed up at the park on Saturday. Here shown in pictures, co-habitating the space; I think you’ll be able to tell which shots are from which event:

Occupy Wall Street Day of Play With Judson Church in background:

And, of course, Elmo:

I myself happened upon the best jam at the park I’ve ever heard taking place on a bench east of the Fountain after the Fandalism event had ended (which I missed). At one point it looked like threatening rain. The group had begun singing “Here Comes the Sun” and the sun, did indeed, appear! (This is the type thing that happens at the park.) I didn’t have a camera which forced me, in a sense, to observe and absorb versus document! Some of the other songs… “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “Rock the Casbah” (Clash) and many other great ones, none of which I can recall now! (Clearly, I didn’t take notes either. … Oh & musicians if any of you who were there read this. Please regroup and let me know when that will be.)

Photo 1: Imagine Engine Via Twitter
Photo 2: Laughing Squid, More pics Fandalism here
Photo 3 and 4: Mickey Z.

More photos from the OWS Day of Play here via Facebook.

San Francisco-based Start Up, Fandalism, to Hold Musicians’ Jam Today, Sat’y, October 6th, 12-3 p.m., at Washington Square’s Garibaldi Plaza

Fandalism, a San Francisco-based site that connects people passionate about music worldwide, is having a meet up and jam today, Saturday, October 6th at WSP by Garibaldi Plaza (east of the Fountain) from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

The site is a really nice way for artists to showcase their work and unite with other musicians.

For today’s event, 500 people have RSVP’d via Facebook! This should be interesting, to say the least! Check it out.

“Person of Interest” Films in WSP Yesterday

Actor Michael Emerson on the Phone in Washington Square

Do you think this show will help bring phone booths back?

Bear the Dog and “Finch” WSP

In the last episode, key character Reese rescued a dog now named “Bear” and he is seen with Michael Emerson’s character, “Finch,” here, yesterday filming at the park.

More “Finch” and “Bear”

Director’s Chairs Against the Arch!

“Person of Interest,” a television program which airs on CBS Thursday nights at 9 p.m. filmed, for at least the second time, at Washington Square Park yesterday. I’m a fan of the series although last night’s show— the second episode of the second season — was a little gruesome and slow at points and lost my interest. That being said, I will continue to watch and look forward to seeing the episode above shot at Washington Square! This is not the first time the show has filmed at the park and last time the park was beautifully lit and the Arch in particular, looked gorgeous!

The two main characters are Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson), pictured in these scenes. Reese now has a dog who he rescued in this season’s Episode 1. The dog’s name is Bear. On the show’s Twitter feed they wrote:

Reese’s dog was one of the most buzzed about moments in the premiere of #PersonOfInterest.

If you haven’t watched the show, here’s a recap from the series premiere from Entertainment Weekly:

In this series created by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and co-produced by J.J. Abrams, there exists in the post-9/11 world a vast matrix of security cameras and technology. In the premiere episode, Mr. Finch revealed that he helped set up that all-seeing system, in Manhattan at the very least, and is now using it for his own purposes. Finch told Reese that he can track potential crimes to be committed, although mere lofty observation cannot indicate whether the people caught on camera are future criminals or victims. For that, Mr. Finch needs a man on the ground, and that man is Reese. “You need a purpose,” Finch told Reese, who’d spent his most recent months not shaving and riding the subway all night without changing his clothes for weeks. “You need a job.”

It would be sort of great if they mixed the reality of the the intensive security camera situation at Washington Square Park into the show!

Thanks for the great photos, Redwingx!

A writer from Scotland asks: What’s up with the WSP “portaloos”?

“Portaloos” in front of closed off old restroom building

Received this letter in the InBox yesterday:

Hi!,

I’ m  just back to scotland from a week in new york spending most of my time in greenwich village and therefore a lot of time in washington square park.

I just wanted to comment on how disgusting the portaloos are that are there temporarily while a new comfort station is built.

While portaloos might be a good idea,they should surely be kept cleaner. I used one once but would not go near them again. At least being a guy i didn’t have to sit down while using it.

I am a regular visitor to the city. God knows what first time tourists make of them.

I just wondered what you thought.

John A Learmonth.

I told Mr. Learmonth that I hadn’t used the bathrooms pre-redesign at WSP* (they really were in horrendous condition) and I don’t quite see myself venturing into the “portaloos,” especially now reading this account of how “disgusting” they are and apparently in need of more maintenance (something I’m certain is not fun to do).

Oh, and how about “portaloos?” Is that the perfect word? Apparently what they call them in Scotland. Our U.S. version “Port-o-potties” so pales in comparison.

It was a fight to get the portaloos there; there were no plans for them initially and then the Parks Department agreed to it and three very functional looking units arrived (CallAhead, they beckon). Reading an article recently about the glamourous perhaps overdone new $2 million rest rooms at Elmhurst Park, it was stated that they had “portable toilets” while the “edgy design” was being constructed. It didn’t sound like it had been an issue.

Anyway, has anyone else used them? Comments?

If you’re wondering what the new bathrooms at WSP will look like when Phase III construction is completed, the architectural plans call for an ivy-covered, trellis-topped “pergola.”

*Oh, and a tip of my top choices of nearby restrooms: Think Coffee, Lifethyme Natural Market, and even sometimes Starbucks Sixth Avenue.

Washington Square Fall 2012 at Dusk

View from Fifth Avenue At Dusk

Closer, Towards The Arch

(Still) Plume-less Fountain

People in the Fountain, Including…

This Gal Deep in Thought

The Fountain Plaza and the Arch… Look Closer

Halloween comes early at Washington Square ?


Photos: Cathryn

“Neighbors for A Viable Village” Fight for University Diner “Tradition” As Coffee Shop Closes after 70 Years

For Rent

By most accounts, University Diner wasn’t perhaps the best diner in the world food-wise but it was a neighborhood force, a meeting spot, a place where the ‘old school’ (if you will) interactions took place that just don’t seem to happen so much anymore. With its open windows and its location at 12th Street and University Place, the outside world was invited to look in and inside you could choose to look out on passers-by, or not. As of Wednesday at 4 p.m., it is now closed after 70 years in business. Jeremiah at Vanishing New York (where I first learned of this) had a great story about an exchange he witnessed there between a man and his wife.

Petition Now on Door

Margaret Laino is part of newly-formed Neighbors for A Viable Village and sent me this description of what the University Diner meant to her and others and what they would like to see happen next:

The University Diner Coffee Shop at the corner of Twelfth Street and University place just drew its last breath [Wednesday] at 4:00 p.m.. After almost 70 years of continuous operation,the last area eating place where NYU, and high school students could eat and study alongside actors, authors, seniors and neighborhood residents without being rushed out after eating or having to pay over $10.00 for a meal. Gazing out the wide windows along East 12 St. and University Place a diner could watch the the action and the actors passing by — whether students on rollerblades, “occupiers” on skateboards, or models on EmpireState 6-inch heels. One never felt alone at this diner.

Shirley, the waitress with the proverbial heart of gold was always there to listen to all, or to light a candle on a birthday cupcake for her “steadies.” One male passerby said today, “How does Shirley feel?” At 3:30 today, Shirley was just about to flag a cab to take her to work when she learned the diner was closing at 4 p.m, and told she needn’t come in. “I’m really tired and heartbroken,” she told a caller. “we were a family. What am I going to do without my regulars? Who’s going to be there for them…and for me!” Told there was a movement led by a neighborhood activists to make sure the the 31 East 12 Street co-op’s real estate agent, Sutton-Garrett Realty, rents to a similar restaurant and not to a chain, a bank, phone store or food franchise, Shirley was too disheartened to talk. The diner’s night staff besides Shirley, Sunita, and cook Manny, had come in to work today at four p.m., expecting a last night with their regulars, only to be told to take their things and go home.

Regular customer and 12th Street neighbor, Bianca Jebbia, recalled “My husband and I courted here and now we bring our three young kids here a couple of times a week. Where else can you go with small children and not have to worry?” Last night, Anne Joseph, a social activist who protests “mountain clearing” in Kentucky was visiting the city from her home in Lexington. She made a point to drop in. “The French toast on challah here is the best!” She shyly added that her father, Mr. Rosenbaum, had owned the University diner during the late 1940s. “We had moved here from Brooklyn and my friends and I would come in for the egg creams. There were looped counters then, along with a few table; I can picture it today! My girlfriends used to love to talk to my parents; they’d even advice from my mother! It’s always easier to talk to someone else’s parents,” she said smiling. “There was also a lot of political talk then. Union Square leftists and Village radicals would have endless conversations at a table.” Ms. Joseph became a member of the Village Independent Democrats while in high school. “The VID had to have a student voice on their council and I was chosen!”

Now the question is: What will be chosen to fill the empty space, filled with memories and friendships that go back to the “New Deal,” the forties, and also the 50s when Eleanor Roosevelt lived at 16 East 11th Street?

inside…

Sam Gustaffson, a tall, blond, 19-year-old music production student at the nearby Institute for Audio Research on University Place and East Tenth Street, meets his friends at the diner a few times a week. He readily signed the petition posted by the newly formed “Neighbors for a Viable Village.” Ella Levi, retiree from Beth Israel Hospital, exchanged cell phone numbers with Shirley. “What are we going to do now?” she asked.

Margaret Laino, a local writer and social worker, said “We’re going to talk, and act, and fight to make sure we get a restaurant that continues the same tradition: affordable, family friendly, and run on a human scale, with the samelow-key lighting that makes this place to relax and reflect, eat and socialize. One with the same wide windows that look to the wider village without!”

The “Neighbors” are presently setting up an on-line petition urging Villagers and anyone interested in retaining the character a liveable and vital city, and respecting its historical treasures and traditions to write or e-mail agent chandrapersaud@suttongarrett realty.org or call 646-300-4891.

Photos: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York

Washington Square September 2012: Khalil Gibran on the Plaza, Fountain Plumes (Still) A Bit ‘Off,’ and Direction “To Happiness”

Khalil Gibran Near the Fountain…

A Closer Look

This artist, Honschar, has chalked memorable quotes on the Plaza at WSP a lot lately. He has a Facebook page.

So, if you look at the Fountain from the west, the fountain plume looks as if it is tilting south (left)…

The Fountain, looking East

When you look from the north looking south, it looks a bit more balanced.

(Still No Side Plumes.)

Looking South…

Then, on the Plaza (maybe left over from Occupy Wall Street Saturday? These photos are from Monday), this made me think … wouldn’t it be nice if there was an arrow leading the way? But maybe there is, and we don’t always realize it. Or, as my sister said, “maybe the arrow is YOU! ;)” Exactly.


In the meantime, I’d like to note where the arrow is pointing…

One Year of OWS – What Has and What Hasn’t Changed in Bloomberg’s NY

NYPD – on S17 (says it all?)

A really good recap of Occupy Wall Street, the unprovoked and needless arrests by Mayor Bloomberg’s NYPD, his “army,” as he (sadly) likes to say), and what OWS means on its one year anniversary which (many) people tend to forget, by Allison Kilkenny of The Nation:

It was one of the largest turnouts since the early days of Occupy, but Monday was also exceptional because of the high arrest figures. More than 180 individuals, including journalists, were arrested, and in at least some of these cases, the police were arresting individuals arbitrarily and without cause.

Protesters reported, and I witnessed first-hand, police dragging individuals off of sidewalks (previously considered the “safe space” of activists who don’t wish to participate in direct action and go to jail) into the street where they were then arrested. When press attempted to rush forth to photograph these arrests, the police formed a wall and aggressively shoved back journalists, making it difficult to document the actions.

At one point, a NYPD white shirt supervising officer told a group of journalists, “You can’t stand and take more pictures. That’s over with.”

“I just got out of jail. Was arrested despite screaming over and over that I’m a journalist,” Chris Faraone, aBoston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted.

Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist, was also arrested even through she was wearing identification that listed her as a member of the National Press Photographers Association.

Another journalist from WPIX was arrested Monday, as was journalist and illustrator Molly Crabapple and independent journalist John Knefel. Knefel’s sister, Molly, described the arrest as “violent and unprovoked.”

Later in the evening, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams was assaulted in Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Protester Jeff Rae photographed a NYPD officer jamming his baton into the councilman’s chest.

Reports emerged almost immediately that the anniversary was a flop, or in the words of the New York TImes‘ Aaron Ross Sorkin, the event “fizzled,” a diagnosis preordained by a media that has never been particularly friendly to a movement it failed to understand in the first place. Sorkin is a Times‘ financial columnist who only first checked out OWS “after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank,” who wanted to know how worried he and his CEO buddies should be about the movement. Sorkin dutifully hurried down to Zuccotti.

To say “Occupy is dead” is to misunderstand everything about the movement. Occupy can’t die as long as the dire conditions that inspired the creation of the movement continue to exist. In speaking with protesters, one can easily see all of their grievances are still real and present. One protester summarized the current state of Occupy nicely as he carried a sign around Zuccotti that read: “Nothing has changed.”

Students are still buried under loan debt. People are still losing their homes. People still can’t afford health care, and they still can’t survive on minimum wage jobs.

… and …

No revolutionary force is without ebb and flows — that is without question — but it’s been interesting to watch the establishment media rush to slap a bow on the “Occupy story” and force a “The End” onto the movement. There is a borderline obsession in the media with numbers, as though there’s a direct correlation between protester turnout and the “seriousness” of a protest — as though small groups of highly dedicated individuals haven’t inspired real, lasting change in the past.

Several media outlets alluded to the “good ol’ days” of Occupy, and how this new Occupy is only a shadow of its former self. As if these aren’t the same media outlets who also dismissed the old Occupy, as well. Hundreds aren’t as important as thousands, who aren’t as important as millions, and the point is Occupy was never, ever going to impress the mainstream media, and so they never aimed to.

What else hasn’t changed? The media and its reporting, its deference to Mike Bloomberg, its ignoring of how the NYPD horrifically treats peaceful protest (and gets away with it), how the other city agencies (City Council? any kind of regulating agency? Public Advocate?) look the other way, the way Mayor Bloomberg acts as if there aren’t real problems in the city while catering to his soft drink obsession. I could go on. I was one of those people who hoped initially OWS would go further but, really, how could it in this climate outlined so well by Allison Kilkenny above?

Occupy Wall Street infused an energy into the idea that the world could and will change, a belief that had been somewhat extinguished or at least was so under the radar amongst any of us who hoped for – and worked for – real change. Many people buy into the media’s characterization(s) of the whole thing and they, and their corporate bosses, who are threatened by it, know this.

This movement speaks to pretty much all of us. Carry on.

Photo: reclaimuc

Also worth reading: Salon.com by David Sirota, Media: Stop Sucking up to Bloomberg August 22, 2012