Garibaldi Uncloaked, Unscaffolded and Restored! Barring Last Minute Setbacks, Eastern End of Park to Open Soon

Garibaldi Now

Updated 5/26 – Poor Garibaldi Statue… he’s had a rough time — first moved from his original location, looking worn down, exposed to the elements, then covered in a gawdy blue cloak (for a long stretch) and, more recently, encased in scaffolding.

But now Garibaldi’s been uncloaked, cleaned, restored, re-patinized and unscaffolded and is looking quite dapper!

Which also signals that the eastern side of the park – Phase IIA – is set to open soon. Likely not “by Memorial Day” (which is Monday the 30th) as the Parks Department told Community Board 2 in early April but pretty close! I’m going with Tuesday or Wednesday next week at this moment. (Update 5/26: I’d be surprised if it is next week but we’ll see.) There could be setbacks and the city will want the fountain out from under repair at that point too (not certain how that’s going).

Just what was done to Garibaldi? Got the word in late March from the NYC Parks Department on what would be done to the 123 year old statue as he waited cloaked in blue; that entailed the Public Design Commission approving the “cleaning, patination, coating and restoration methodologies and procedures.”

cloaked in blue...

Who was Garibaldi? At the time the statue was moved from its previous location in April 2010, I reported on some history of Giuseppe Garibaldi:

The Giuseppe Garibaldi Statue at Washington Square Park was moved last week from its position facing west (looking toward the fountain, his back was to Washington Square East).

The Garibaldi Statue was designed by Giovanni Turini and erected in 1888. It was refurbished once but not moved (hard to find info on that but there was a plaque outlining it at the Park – American Express financed it at the time).

under scaffolding

Some background on the Garibaldi statue from Emily Kies Folpe in her book, It Happened on Washington Square. Interesting note that Garibaldi was approached by Abraham Lincoln at the start of the Civil War to command a Union army corps. In response, one of Garibaldi’s stipulations was that Lincoln commit to abolishing slavery. This was not agreed to. Garibaldi declined.

Previous Location During Construction

There was something nice about the previous location, coming from the fountain and encountering Garibaldi regally standing there, welcoming you into the eastern end of the park (admittedly, while also ready to draw his sword!). I imagine the designer wanted to open up the vista (as was done – and works – on the western side). I asked designer George Vellonakis to take me for a tour of the park before it opens so he could tell me in person what he had in mind but he declined.

We’ll know soon enough how the new design fits the newly refurbished park when Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II opens on the eastern end after 20 months of construction. Stay tuned!

________________________________________________________________

For more interesting background on Garibaldi, visit New York City Statues.

Is the New Washington Square Park Fountain Falling Apart? Fountain Now Under Wraps (Updated 5/17)

Updated May 17th, 2:52 p.m.

Washington Square Park Fountain Now Under Wraps

Workers today at work on the fountain

Later in the Day... Fountain Fully Closed Off from Viewing

what went wrong?

Cracks in the Fountain

I’ve been thinking about writing about the fountain’s construction falling apart for awhile but now it appears there’s a real reason. There are workers on the scene repairing it. A reminder: the fountain is brand new, it was reconstructed from scratch as part of Phase I of Washington Square Park’s redesign in which the Bloomberg Administration decided to move it 23 feet east to align with the Arch at Fifth Avenue. It was newly constructed and unveiled to the public in 2009. So what went wrong? Was there faulty construction? Was it anchored properly? Did the Parks Department oversee the job? More information to come including response from the NYC Parks Department (Update: no response yet).

Updated May 17th, 2:52 p.m.: Third photo from the top is from late yesterday afternoon. The fountain is now fully encased by fences covered in green draping blocking off viewing of the work being done.

Some additional background: The fountain is part of the park’s controversial $30 Million + redesign plan, currently in the midst of Phase II (of III).The fountain had been located in its previous spot in the center of the park since 1871. Seven 40 year old trees were chopped down to accommodate the moving of the fountain. Two replacement trees planted in 2009 died, were replaced, and those replacement trees in the same location died also. They were recently replanted in the hope that they will survive this time. (It’s doubtful because nothing has been changed.)

Still no word back from the city’s Parks Department. See new post.


Part 2 with update from the NYC Parks Department here.

Told In Pictures: Phase II Construction Update and Spring at the Park

NYPD Watches Over NW Plaza

Squirrel takes Lunch Break behind Fence

Flowers Bloom

Eastern Side Construction Almost Complete

Private Tour Takes Place of Not Yet Opened Eastern End

[See previous WSP Blog post when this blogger encountered designer George Vellonakis giving another private tour in 2008 during Phase I.]

Petanque Court in Trouble? Sloped?

Commenter Seth thinks the petanque court is improperly designed.

Looking Southwest: Still quite a bit of work to do

Chess Plaza (Projected Completion: Early June. Really?)

Curb At SW Border Awfully Close to Tree's Roots

Daffodils Hanging On Amidst Construction SW Plaza

This Phase 2 Update bumped Parks Update Part 4 ’til Monday Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday!

Part 2 – Update on Washington Square Park Phase II from Community Board 2 Meeting Last Week

– Updated –

* Washington Square Park Seating alcoves reduced in size contrary to agreement?

* A Look back at Landmarks Preservation 2 Hearings On WSP Phase II in 2009

* Has Community Board 2 Colluded with the Parks Department to Keep Phase II Under Wraps?

* & More!

As I reported in Part 1 of my report back from the April 6th Community Board 2 meeting, Phase II construction at Washington Square Park (parts, of course, that weren’t moved into Phase III) on the Eastern side will be finished and open sometime “around Memorial Day” with the Chess Plaza opening in June.

At the meeting, Community member Margie Rubin asked about the seating alcove in the Northeastern section of the park – across from the playground – which was promised to be the “exact same size.” She said that this alcove is now “1/2 the size. Why was it cut down?

The community fought to keep the seating alcoves in the park; the Parks Department wanted to remove most of them. At the Landmarks Preservation Commission two hearings addressing Phase II in 2009, the Parks Department agreed to increase the proposed number of seating alcoves from 1 1/2 to four. (Previously, there were six, or seven, depending who you ask.)

Brad Romaker from Capital Projects division — who was sent to the meeting by the Parks Department to give the status report on Phase II and was unfamiliar with the finer points of the park’s plan — said he did not know what happened but would find out. (A woman involved with another Parks project at the meeting told me that Romaker can be quite helpful and can get things done.)

This led to discussion in which Tobi Bergman (CB2 Parks Committee chair) said post-Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings that the seating alcoves were never supposed to be the same size.

My understanding was that three of the alcoves remained the same size except for one on the southeast side (which also endured a change of location to the southern side of the park at some point after the LPC meeting). I will revisit the alcoves; nonetheless, it was clearly stated that the alcove on the northeastern side would retain its size.

See highlights from previous blog posts below from the two Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings in 2009 addressing Phase II:

* Highlights from LPC Public Hearing March 17th on WSP (posted March 20,2009):

Currently there are six seating alcoves at Washington Square Park which exist on the north, northeast, and southeast sides of the Park. The Parks Department’s plan is to eliminate all except for one (which will remain in its entirety on the north side, across from the playground) and to retain a 1/4 or a 1/2 of another (on the eastern side).

* Landmarks Preservation Commission Approves Phase II of WSP Redesign; NYC Parks Department agrees to increase # of alcoves (posted April 15th, 2009):

The Parks Department, represented by Charles McKinney and designer George Vellonakis, started out stating that they were prepared to add one or two more alcoves to the originally proposed two. However, they preferred three. George Vellonakis said that ideally a fourth would be omitted because its location inside the Park lawn on the (south) east side “distracts the view and expansion of the lawn.” The other reasons given by Mr. Vellonakis for omitting that fourth alcove were possible damage to surrounding tree roots and that that area in the new design undergoes a “geometry change.”

The Parks Department stated that the fourth alcove would be very small and “intimate” but how small I’m not sure.

Mr. Bergman then said that this was due to “different memories” and stated that everyone had a chance to “look at the blueprints.” Actually, that is not true specifically because of his collusion with the city Parks Department. The CB2 Parks Committee chair has prevented any substantive look at or discussion of Phase II designs.

A Parks Department long-awaited presentation on Phase II that was supposed to happen in February 2010 (after the Department admitted being unprepared at a meeting in December 2009) never happened. The blueprints were dropped off at this February 2010 meeting (over one year ago) and left on a table with no opportunity for discussion or review – this was five months after the work had already started. Mr. Bergman does not have a lot of credibility when it comes to the issue of Washington Square Park, Phase II and blueprints.

When asked about the tiles which previously lay in Teen Plaza that children in the ’70’s had created; some of which were supposed to be moved into the newly designed Children’s Playground, Mr. Romaker did not know if this had happened but also that he would find out. I was also curious about the historical markers which are in Phase III — Mr. Romaker did not know about these and again said he would get the answer.

There’s more! Part 3 from the meeting coming on the other parks.

* In 2008, I wrote an 8 part report after a Washington Square Park Task Force meeting so I certainly can find things to write about after attending these meetings!

Projected Opening for WSP Phase II; Washington Square Again Given Short Shrift by Parks Department and CB2

"Spring 2011" completion now means around or after Memorial Day

We have a date. Or, at least, close to one. Projected opening for the entire Eastern side of Washington Square Park Phase II, currently under construction, is slated for “Around Memorial Day.” That’s the (latest) word from the NYC Parks Department stated last night at a meeting of Community Board 2’s Parks Committee. The agency is now saying “early June” for the Chess area and Southwestern Plaza (tho’ I doubt the Eastern and SW sections will open so close together in time). As I predicted, Phase II is opening in two parts.

Yet again, however, Community Board 2 and the Parks Department paid scant attention to one of the city’s most prominent parks. First, Washington Square Park was listed last on the published agenda of topics to be covered, almost as if an afterthought.

The focus on the meeting was updates on the status of seven Greenwich Village area parks, including Seravalli Playground, Petrocino Park, Minetta Playground, JJ Walker Field, Bleecker Playground & Comfort Station/Bleecker Sitting Area, and the High Line. One of these is only .03 of an acre.

Then, at the meeting, instead of an update presented by designer George Vellonakis or WSP Park Administrator Rebecca Ferguson (neither was present), it was given by Brad Romaker from the Capital Projects division of the Parks Department. Romaker has a disarming honesty that also makes him immensely likable. However, that can’t make up for the fact that he was sent in to the meeting with little knowledge of any of the projects he updated on, other than what was contained on a piece of paper from which he read updates.

As far as Washington Square Park Phase III — Restrooms and Parks’ Administrative Building, which now also includes the Mounds and Large Dog Run (previously in Phase II) — Romaker informed the community that this will go out for contractor bids in May. He said construction on Phase III will begin in “late summer” (I believe this is highly unlikely).

The Parks Department has not updated on Washington Square substantively in more than a year. I question their judgment in not sending someone familiar with the project to update the community and New Yorkers on this historic and landmark New York City park.

This is Part I update on the meeting. Part II to follow Monday, April 11th.

* The Skinny on Phase II Construction and Why it’s so behind schedule.

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.