Washington Square News, NYU’s Daily Newspaper, on Chess Plaza Opening

For readers of this blog who are looking for more “positivity” here, here you go.

Washington Square News, NYU’s daily newspaper, reports on the opening of the SouthWest Quadrant,”Fences Come Down at Washington Square Park,” online today. The writer, Emily Yang, interviewed me — she wrote a well done, comprehensive piece and my viewpoint sounds quite positive. (Tho’, I must admit, my more in-depth comments on the project taking so long or about reduction in size of chess plaza were pretty much left out — another park user fills some of that in.)

I’d never really thought about the difference in dynamic the SW entrance to the park offers until I sat down at a chess table the day the plaza opened at last. The writer asked me what I thought this section opening meant to people who visit the park. Here is an excerpt of the piece:

Our goal was to create a renewed sense of space, with a design that restored and upgraded the significant features that make Washington Square Park an iconic destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike,” [Parks Department spokesperson Phil] Abramson said.

Phase III was expected to be completed by winter 2011. But Abramson said the next phase will begin this spring and last for one year. When completed, it will include a large, renovated dog run and park house with a public restroom and space for the maintenance staff.

Cathryn Swan, creator of the Washington Square Park Blog, said the opening of the new area will bring positive results to the community. But she said this phase is long overdue.

Even though the central plaza where the chess tables are has been reduced a lot in size, this section is an important part of the park,” Swan said.

“The southern end has a different feeling, maybe because people are coming from Bleecker and MacDougal where there is a lot going on,” she added. “So it’ll be nice to have a flow again through the park from there.”

Long-time WSP visitor Vince Marchese, 70, said the fences took away from the beauty of the park for too long.

“I would say it looks like an improvement of about 50 percent,” Marchese said. “It’s a nice place to go to, where things happen all the time.”

He said other aspects of the park, including the cleanliness of the existing public restrooms and how often the fountain is turned on, have room for improvement.

Full story at Washington Square News: Fences Come Down at Washington Square Park

Interview with Washington Square News

Update 11/29: It’s now on their website here!

I completed an interview with NYU’s daily newspaper, Washington Square News, which appeared last Wednesday (11/16). Their site isn’t set up to have online stories or links so it’s uploaded below.

L.A. “Ready to Roll” for Earthquake. Is NYC? Seismometer To Be Placed Under Washington Square Park to Measure “Potential Damage”

Banner Along Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills

Los Angeles has designated April Earthquake Preparedness Month and the city recently unveiled new banners that certainly, uh, get your attention. Planted in Beverly Hills, they read: “When it rocks, are you ready to roll?The New York Times has the story.

Is New York City prepared for an earthquake? Concern seems warranted as it appears we may be 17 years overdue.

NYU daily Washington Square News spoke to experts on the matter and reports that Columbia University will install a seismometer under Washington Square Park this summer to “assess the potential damage caused if a big earthquake were to hit New York.”

“New York is much less well-prepared for earthquakes than Japan,” John Armbrust, a Columbia seismology professor, said, comparing the potential consequences of a quake in the city with the challenges Japan faced after it was hit by a 9.0 earthquake in March.

In a study published in 2008, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory warned that New York City should expect an earthquake every 100 years. The most recent major earthquake hit in 1884.

They might want to measure activity under the Washington Square Fountain. The relatively new structure, installed during Phase I Redesign in 2009, is already looking a little shaky. Could that be due to tremors or more likely faulty construction?