May Day Happenings in NYC Parks Today: Free University at Madison Sq, Rally Union Sq, Pop-Up Occupation Bryant Park, More

Union Square (1882?)

* NYU Occupy Wall Street 2 p.m. Washington Square (will add in link)

* Rally at Union Square for May Day at 4 p.m. The first Labor Day March was held there in 1882 and was huge. Today, there will be a rally and then march beginning at 5:30 p.m. heading to Zuccotti Park.

* Bryant Park (40-42nd St. bet. 5th & 6th Ave.) 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Fun and friendly “Pop-up Occupation” featuring free food, a free market, free services, skill-shares, workshops, teach-ins, speak-outs, meditation, public art, performances, discussions, and trainings. (ed. note: love this!)

GuitarArmy rehearsal with Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) at noon.

March at 2 pm to Madison Sq. Park and on to Union Square.

* Free University in Madison Square Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Free University is a collective educational experiment that will be held on May 1, 2012, from 10am-3pm. In solidarity with the general strike, the Free University offers a public space for the 99% to disengage from an unequal system and imagine a model for alternative education. Those gathered in Madison Square Park, and those meeting in other spaces in solidarity, will create a university that is open to all, without debt or tuition for students, without pre-requisites, age limits or any other disqualifying requirements. Learning can only happen through interaction, exchange, and dialogue. To create a living future together, all must be included and welcome.

The Free University is an open invitation to educators around New York City to participate in May Day 2012. During the day, lectures, workshops, skill-shares, and discussions will be held — all open to the public. …

No single day, park, or effort can contain our vision; instead, we propose and will struggle to make all our universities places of free education, inquiry, and access to knowledge for all. We demand that our society put forward the necessary resources to provide such an education for all.

Free U is a project made in partnership with educators and students from Brooklyn College/CUNY Grad Center/Eugene Lang College/New School for Social Research/Hunter College/ /Pratt Institute/New York University/Queensborough Community College/ Rutgers/Columbia University/Princeton.

There’s more!

99 Picket Lines (one at WSP at 8 p.m.)
Midtown Manhattan
Community groups, unions, affinity groups and OWS
more info
8am – Chase Building (NYCC) – 270 Park Ave (@48th St)
8am – New York Times Building (UAW) – 620 8th Ave (@41st St)
8am – Sotheby’s (Teamsters) – 1334 York Ave (@72nd St)
8am-10am – US Post Office (Community-Labor Alliance) – 421 8th Ave (@W31st St)
8:30am-9am – NYU Bobst Library (NYU for OWS) – 70 Washington Square South (@University Pl)
9am – Paulson & Co (Strong Economy for All) – 1251 6th Ave (@50th St)
10am – Chase Branch (NYCC) – 401 Madison Ave (@48th St)
11am – ABC Studios (NABET-CWA) – 66th Street (@Columbus)
12pm-1:30pm – Investment Banker Stephen Berger (CSEA AFSCME) – 46th St @ Park Ave
12pm-2pm – Immigration Court (NMASS) – 26 Federal Plaza (Worth & Lafeyette)
1:30pm – Capital Grille (ROC-NY) – 155 E 42nd St (@3rd Ave)
2pm – Chase and Citibank (Occupy Sunset Park) – 5th Ave & 54th St (BROOKLYN)
3pm – Strand Bookstore (Strand workers) – 828 Broadway (@12th St)
3pm – Beth Israel Hospital (Workers United) – 10 Union Square East (14th St & Park Ave)
8pm – Washington Square Park Arch (Musicians 802) – Washington Square North @ 5th Ave

Full Occupy Wall Street May Day Schedule Everywhere

Three (or Four) Red-Tailed Hawks Have Turned Up Dead in NYC Parks This Year

Via WPIX11Hawks Turning Up Dead in Manhattan Parks:

Several red-tailed hawks have been found dead in and around parks in Manhattan over the past two months. Two hawks were discovered in different sections of Central Park, and one in Riverside Park, according to Parks Department officials. All three were sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s pathology lab to determine the cause of their deaths.

“That to me is absolutely overwhelming,” said bird lover Virginia Arrea, who goes to Washington Square Park twice a day to look for a hawk she’s spotted there on a number of occasions.

I love to see the majesty of the bird in the middle of New York City,” Arrea said.

Other recent deaths include Lima, the mate of celebrity hawk Pale Male. Two more dead hawks were found, one near Columbus Circle, and another near Peter Cooper Village on the Lower East Side.

Experts suspect the hawks may have consumed poison indirectly by eating sick rodents or pigeons which they might find outside the parks.

We value our wildlife and work diligently to create the necessary balance between public health and safety, and wildlife health and safety,” said Parks’ First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “Out of concern for the resident red-tailed hawks in Central and Riverside Park, poisoned bait is not currently used.

Here is the story from the NY Times when Pale Male’s (latest) mate, Lima, was found dead in late February.

Then there was this dramatic aspect to it when Lincoln Karim from the Pale Male Blog was arrested for possession of Lima’s body.

He was concerned that the body would not be tested accurately by governmental agencies to reveal the true source of her death.

NY Daily News reports on three but also mentions there’s a fourth: Three (Perhaps Four) Hawks Dead from NYC Parks March 9, 2012

Related at this blog:

* Parks Department says Rodenticide Removed at Washington Square; On Rethinking Use of Poison in Our Parks, May 7, 2011

Jane Jacobs on Parks in our Cities

You can neither lie to a neighborhood park, nor reason with it. “Artist’s conceptions” and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighborhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use. Superficial architectural variety may look like diversity, but only a genuine content of economic and social diversity, resulting in people with different schedules, has meaning to the park and the power to confer the boon of life upon it.

– “The uses of neighborhood parks” from The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 1961

More on Jane Jacobs as author, community activist, and urban planner from WSP Blog here.

More on Phase II tomorrow.

Parks Department says Rodenticide Removed at Washington Square. (And yet…) On Rethinking Use of Poison in Our Parks

Rat Poison Sign Washington Sq Park

The City’s Parks Department told the New York Times yesterday (May 6th) that they were removing the rodenticide “bait stations” at Washington Square that day to accommodate red-tailed hawk couple Violet and Bobby and their newborn hatchlings now residing above the park. This is good news!

However, at 7 p.m. yesterday, bait stations were still visible along Washington Square South and Washington Square East behind Phase II construction fences and close to the Bobst Library; the building’s 12th floor ledge accommodates Violet and Bobby’s nest.

From New York Times City Room Blog, “The Dangers of Rat Poison”:

bait station at base of tree washington sq south

The main threat Bobby and Violet’s brood face, and it is a serious one, is from Bobby bringing home a poisoned rat for dinner. Rat poisoning is believed to have caused the death last month of an adult male red-tail in Riverside Park, state officials say.

The city parks department regularly sets poison in rat burrows in Washington Square Park, which the hawks’ nest looks out on. But in anticipation of a possible hawk hatch, the department has refrained from doing so since April 22.

bait station, washington square east

“We will not be placing additional rat poison in the park while the hawks are fledging,” Phil Abramson, a parks spokesman, said in an e-mail Friday.

“Parks staff is searching the park today to make sure there are no bait boxes or any other signs of poison remaining.”

*******************************************************************

Hopefully, those remaining bait stations, pictured above left, were located and removed today.

Meanwhile, it might be time to rethink rat poison in our city parks in general.

In Robert Sullivan’s book, “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants,” he interviews David E. Davis, “the founding father of modern rat studies.”

Sullivan writes: [Davis] consulted with cities on their rats, preaching his most important discovery throughout the country – that poisoning rats was not in itself an effective way of controlling them. In fact, 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.

The only way to get rid of rats was to get rid of the rat food, or garbage, but no one wanted to hear this: as it was the dawn of the age of ecology so also it was the dawn of the age of the chemical, of poisons and pesticides, and people seemed to want a sexier, chemical-based fix.

Seems they still do.

Photos: Cathryn

Yesterday’s WSP Blog Post: Violet and Bobby Nest-Watch: Baby Hawk Spotted! On Heels of Riverside Park Hawk’s Death, Can We Rid Washington Square of Hazardous Rodenticide?

Update: In a tense turn of events, not poison-related, Violet’s foot is entwined in plastic netting leg is being constricted by a wildlife identification band placed there by a researcher. Wildlife rehabilitators and hawk experts Bobby and Cathy Horvath are coming today to see if they can help and somehow spring her from it! [5/9: They will be attempting a rescue mission from the window ledge to remove the band in the next few days. The bands don’t usually cause this to happen but it does make you wonder in general about placing bands on birds and other animals. ]

Sand Painting at the Park

the artist

Gorgeous sand painting being created at the park near the Arch this past Saturday by artist Joe Mangrum who told me he comes to Washington Square usually every Saturday if the weather’s nice starting around noon. As a crowd gathers around him, he works on his sand paintings for about 6-8 hours expanding or changing the arrangement as the day goes on. This was what he’d designed this past weekend mid-afternoon.

You can view more of these unique sand paintings at Mangrum’s web site here.

Photos: Susan Celia Swan

Birdman of Washington Square

This is a really sweet and interesting interview by Colin Jones with Paul, a fixture at the park you’ve likely encountered, who proclaims himself “The Birdman of Washington Square.” It’s true, as he says, that, for children raised in an urban environment, sometimes the only form of ‘nature’ and wildlife they’ll experience are pigeons, and that interaction actually becomes very important.

Pigeons are such interesting, smart birds who have developed a bad reputation. It wasn’t until I encountered an injured one on a wintry day about 12 years ago outside a meatpacking plant on Greenwich Street that I even took notice of them, for the most part. The workers there that morning noticed my concern – imagine, they handled raw carcasses all day and yet they cared enough to bring out a box and help move the bird into it. Ever since then, I’ve noticed the pigeons of New York City, amazed at how they survive, co-existing with humans and other birds. A really nice thing about Washington Square is that pretty much all the wildlife is appreciated by people who inhabit the park.

Video: Colin Jones

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.

Community Board 2 Parks Committee to Meet Wed. Feb. 3rd – Will discuss WSP

Updated 2/3
* Wednesday, February 3rd, 6:30 p.m., Community Board 2 Parks Committee Meeting – on agenda: status report by NYC Parks Dept on Phase III design of Washington Sq Pk comfort stations/bathrooms. As far as Phase II updates…

At the last WSP Task Force/CB2 Parks Committee meeting in December, the Parks Department was admittedly unprepared and said they’d return in February 2010 with details on current status of Phase II construction including presentation of various final details of the plan plus current status of plans for Phase III, the Washington Square Park maintenance building and rest rooms. Will that be part of this meeting or will that happen at another time?

Update: According to CB2 Parks Committee Chair Tobi Bergman, the Parks Department was asked to bring information and diagrams relating to Phase II to this meeting.

Location: St. Anthony’s Of Padua, 154 Sullivan (between Houston & Prince), Lower Hall

Washington Square Park Fountain and The Arch at Night


Photo: Re-Newelled

Also, a bonus in the shot: The Empire State Building!

Is Yankee Stadium’s Rough Start Bad Karma?

Today’s Wall Street Journal takes an intense look at the new Yankee Stadium with an article entitled, “Yankee Stadium’s Ugly Start : Cheap Home Runs, Empty Seats and Lopsided Losses Have Some Asking, ‘Can a Stadium Fail?‘” It’s a well done piece which looks closely at what (overall) make a stadium succeed. However, the article does not mention the destruction of one and a half Parks in the green-space challenged South Bronx or the axing of the 400 trees in the creation of the new Yankee Stadium. Or the fact that the team could have just played elsewhere for a year and then rebuilt on the site of the former Stadium (as had been done in the past) but that would not happen in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York because corporations are not supposed to encounter any difficulty or inconvenience. Just every day people.

From the article:

The new Yankee Stadium has seemed cursed from the beginning, as if Babe Ruth disapproved of the abandonment of the house he built. That it opened during a recession, with a major-league-high $72.97 average price for a nonpremium ticket (up 76% over 2008, according to Team Marketing Report) has created contempt among fans who otherwise love the team. “They don’t have a good enough team to charge those prices,” says 35-year-old fan Jeff Burrows of Brooklyn, who toured the park recently with his father. “They’ve made almost every mistake you can make,” says Roger Noll, a professor of economics emeritus at Stanford. “There’s nothing that’s been as unpopular as this.”

And then… who pops up at the end of the article? NYU President John Sexton, no stranger to destruction of old, charming and neighborhood-oriented New York.

Some Yankee fans are optimistic. John Sexton, president of New York University and a longtime season-ticket holder, says the park isn’t perfect — he wishes Monument Park weren’t so hidden from view. Still, he says, “In five years we may be looking back on this and saying we’re glad we did it.”

Previous WSP Blog Entry: Play Ball: How New York City Destroyed Two Bronx Parks