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

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…

Occupy Wall Street Leads to One Year Anniversary with 3 Days of Community, Events & Action; Saturday, September 15th Kicks Off at Washington Square

Zuccotti Park Oct. 2011

Occupy Wall Street’s 1 Year Anniversary is on September 17th (it feels like so long ago in so many ways!). See My Visit to Zuccotti Park from early October 2011 (the two shots above are from then). There are three days of events leading up to the anniversary beginning today.

Today, Saturday, September 15th Occupy Wall Street Focus: Education will be at WSP from 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday, September 16th, the focus is on Celebration with Occupy Town Square at Thomas Paine Park and Monday, September 17th (the 1 Year Anniversary) events downtown with emphasis on Resistance. See more info here.

Washington Square Park Folk Festival also happening at the Park Saturday and Sunday (not part of OWS).

Photos: Cathryn

Washington Square Park Folk Festival Returns for Year Two at WSP This Weekend (9/15 & 16, 2012)


For the second year in a row, the Washington Square Park Folk Festival will take place for 2 days at the park this coming weekend on September 15th and 16th. I spoke to Eli Smith, the organizer, a musician and host of the Down Home Radio Show who also produces the Brooklyn Folk Festival (now in year four) about the upcoming festival at the park and year two!

This is your second year doing the festival at Washington Square Park. What did you learn from last year?

I thought it went great. I felt it could have been bigger. Last year, we had 9 bands; this year we have 13. We’ll set out more chairs! (laughs)

(Ed. note: Last year, there was a bit of a chair issue. There did not seem to be many set out!)

When did you find out you got the go ahead for year 2?

They told me right away after the first festival that they wanted it to continue. I was relieved when I checked in six months later to find out that it was [definitely] confirmed.

Rebecca Ferguson, the Park Administrator, whose idea the festival was, recently left her position. How has that impacted things?

She was super cool and kept on it as her final project of the park.

The folk music I saw last year was a bit more blue grass and string-oriented than perhaps what some think of when they hear the term “folk music.” Some might consider it to be a bit more “pop” such as the music associated with artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, for example. Are there different types of what is considered “folk” music?

Folk music is a very wide, expansive genre. With [advent of] Bob Dylan {and his success], seemingly anyone who wrote their own songs was considered folk music. in my mind, folk is the more traditionalist, old-time string and blues as well as some wonderful and talented singer-songwriters. The festival will have something for everybody – a wide range of what people think of as folk music and think of as Washington Square Park. We’ll also have some venerable performers with a history in Washington Square Park including Tracy Schwarz and Ginny Hawker. Schwarz played in WSP with the New Lost City Ramblers in the ’50s and ’60s. John Cohen, also of the New Lost City Ramblers, has a history at the park as does Randy Byrnes who played in the park in the ’60s and ’70s. The festival will feature those with a history of performance associated with the park as well as young talent from the city.

You have a lot of different sponsors for the festival, including Mario Batali. How did that come about?

Becky [Rebecca Ferguson] took care of that from her connections from Washington Square Park. Of course, Matt Umanov from Matt Umanov Guitars was the one who first recommended me to do the festival [last year]. Also, the Washington Square Hotel and Mario Batali Foundation. It’s super nice of them to kick in like that. I heard that Mario Batlai lives in the area of the park and is super into music. I started buying his pasta sauce.

I didn’t know he had a pasta sauce. Where do you buy it?

I buy it at Fairway. (laughs) I think he stopped by one day last year. (segues)

I also was contacted by Occupy Wall Street as there’s going to be an Occupy Wall Street Action at the same time on Saturday. We’re trying to give each other space.

* * *

Stop by Saturday, September 15th * 2-8 p.m. and Sunday, September 16th * 1- 8 p.m. It’s free!

There is further description of the Festival at the Parks Department web site and a breakdown of the performances at the Festival’s site.

This Blog on last year’s festival!