After 29 Months, Will the Final ‘Piece’ of Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II Construction – Chess Plaza – Open Tomorrow?

WSP SW entrance -- will these fences really be coming down at last?

Completion date on sign: "Summer 2011" (Formerly Fall 2010)

The Lonely Chess Plaza




Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase IIB — the Chess Plaza and Southwestern Quadrant — under construction for 29 months (that’s 2 years and 5 months) is more than 17 months behind schedule (that’s one year and five months) from the original scheduled completion date and 9 months behind Phase IIA’s opening (June 2011) at which point it seemed likely it would be finished shortly thereafter.

It is now scheduled to be opened to the public at any moment – perhaps even tomorrow, Friday, March 2nd. At this point, we’ll believe it when we see it!

Depending on whom you ask, it was either the Parks Department’s stalling the project, a lack of any oversight by any governing body, or a problem between the contractor and the Parks Department which led to the monumental delay. Or some combination of all three.

This is what I wrote on June 2nd 2011 when Phase IIA – the eastern side of the Park – opened:

Phase II was scheduled for completion by Fall 2010; then we heard the end of the year (tho’ doubted it), then “Spring 2011,” then “by Memorial Day,” but park goers looked happy to be finally able to stream through the eastern end of the park.

Of course, this isn’t all of Phase II, since, for one, part of it (The Mounds and the Large Dog Run) was moved into Phase III. And Chess Plaza, technically still in Phase II, now Phase II-B, won’t be finished til the end of the month. At least, at last, it’s something!

WSP Blog chronicled the problems back in September 2010 outlining how the city’s parks department caused numerous delays in getting the job done, how the project was over-budget, and the fact that no governmental agencies were providing oversight.

Washington Square Park’s entire redesign – Phases I, II, and III – was budgeted and approved for $16 Million at the onset. Phase I alone — which moved the fountain to align with the Arch, reduced the public space around the fountain, and re-landscaped the NorthWest Quadrant, opened in May of 2009 — cost $13 Million.

Phase II was budgeted at $9 Million but will likely be $8 Million and that’s without the Large Dog Run and Mounds (included in the original figure).

Phase III (rest rooms and administrative building – the new “pergola”) had been budgeted at $9 Million (note – that’s before the cost of the Mounds and Dog Run are added in). Got all that?

Since the Parks Department’s projects continue to be seriously over-budget with no apparent oversight by any governing body, the project by the end will have more than doubled from its approved budget and is now projected for $30-$35 Million in cost.

A review of the finances:

Phase I cost: $13 Million (budgeted at $6 Million)
Phase II cost: $9.1 Million (budgeted at $9 Million but that figure was including the Dog Run and Mounds — both of which have been moved into Phase III)
Phase III: bid came in at “approximately 5.4 Million” according to the Parks Department
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Total projected thus far: $27.5 Million but there is no way Phase III will come in at $5.4 Million so we are at least $30 Million for a project which was approved at $16 Million at the onset.

It should be noted that Phase III contains the piece that the surrounding community and park users wanted completed first – the much neglected and deteriorating rest rooms. The Parks Department refused to accommodate this request; the city agency practically went out of its way to make sure this was completed last in the 3 phases of the project.

Work is presently scheduled to begin on Phase III — which now includes the Large Dog Run, the Mounds, Administrative Building, Rest Rooms and possibly perimeter sidewalks (much in need of repair!) — in April of this year.

At least, at last, the Chess Plaza will finally be opening! Will it be tomorrow? We’ll see…

Occupy Town Square Kicks Off at WSP Sunday (Photos)

Reverend Billy and Choir 'Bless' The Event













Sunday, January 29th. Great job by Occupy Town Square. Love to see the Park utilized in this way. Bustling, great energy, lots of people (the photos don’t quite reflect that). Music, speak outs, teach-ins, free food, information tables, and many places and ways to come together. A thank you to the Parks Department for allowing this to move forward in this way. And all was good with NYPD during the day (apparently, not later on a march).
Photo #2: Robert Christine
Photos #4 and 11: Johanna Clearfield
Rest of Photos: Cathryn / WSP Blog

Yesterday’s WSP Blog post featured “Occupy Town Square’s Statement of Intent & Guidelines” (+ a few more photos).

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on Performance Crackdown At WSP — What he said… What he meant…

In last week’s Clyde Haberman column in the New York Times “A Word to the ‘Wise and Honest’ on Washington Square Park” which addressed the performance crackdown, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was quoted as follows and we’ve interpreted his comment for you here at WSP Blog

What he said:

The commissioner of parks and recreation, Adrian Benepe, in a ’60s music moment of his own, said the balance was between the performers and those who go to the park to “enjoy the sounds of silence or the trees blowing in the wind.”

What he meant:

Adrian Benepe, in a 60s music moment of his own, said the balance was between the performers and those who go to the park to “enjoy the sounds of silence” (except for police vehicles driving through and the crash of construction machinery) “or the (dead and dying) trees blowing in the wind.”

Counting Down the Days ’til the Annual Village Halloween Parade — Now 18!

Now 18 Days!


Uncle Sam’s Army-Navy Store on West 8th Street wants you to know that it is “your Halloween Destination” and is counting down the days til the Village Halloween Parade, an annual tradition – the 39th year!

Photo taken yesterday so it is now 18 Days!

Time for a costume tho’!

Seen Around the Fountain: Green Guy


Also seen at the Park on Saturday. Not sure of the message but … hey! maybe just being ones’ self (or something) is enough.

The Arch in the Rain


Yesterday.

Photo: Cathryn.

Update — Postponed — “Hair” Tonight, September 15th, 7:30 p.m. — filmed in WSP

"Hair"

Update: Postponed due to Rain; Rescheduled date not yet announced — The Parks Department’s film series of musicals at the Park kicks off tonight, Thursday, September 15th; it’s scheduled to begin 1/2 hour after sunset — around 7:40 p.m. — with classic flick Hair.” Filmed and released in the ’70s, Washington Square Park of yore is featured prominently. The three-film series is being presented with the IFC Waverly Center (and apparently NYU?).

The films are free and presented on the lawn in the NorthWest Quadrant (west of the Fountain). Will there be signs up? There weren’t last week for “On The Town” but that screening was postponed due to pending rain and rescheduled for next Monday.

Still to come —

*Monday, September 19th: “On The Town”
*Thursday, September 22nd: “Wild Style”

Previous WSP Blog post with full information on the series.

Community Board 2 To Address Status of Neighborhood Parks Including Washington Square Wed. April 6th

Community Board 2 Parks Committee MEETING
Wednesday, April 6th, 6:45 PM

Community Board 2 announced some long delayed topics will appear on its April 6 agenda including “status of capital projects in CB2 parks”: Washington Square, Seravalli Playground, Petrocino Park, Minetta Playground, JJ Walker Field, Bleecker Playground Comfort Station, and Bleecker Sitting Area.

There are so many parks listed mainly because it’s been six months and longer since any substantive discussion has occurred of these projects.

Also on the packed agenda is an update on the 2nd phase of the High Line opening.

Notably absent? Whether there will be discussion of Washington Square 2nd phase opening date.

(If you’re thinking this seems highly unusual, that’s because it is. This is how Community Board 2 handles their – and one of New York City’s – most prominent park and public space.)

Meeting Location: NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, off Washington Square East, Room 714.

On the Fountain Plaza: NYPD


The Park. Tuesday — People enjoying the Plaza by the Fountain. Music. Conversation. Then, large New York Police Department van appears, just sitting there, for how long I’m not sure.

I realize there are people who may (?) consider this a good thing but, a bit of overkill, no?

Previous WSP Blog post: The NYPD will be watching YOU at Washington Square Park

Washington Square: The Arch, Fifth Avenue

The Arch and Fifth Avenue

March 2010.