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Thread: Washington Square Park

  1. #181

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeW View Post
    ^
    To summarize: The renovation is going to happen exactly how the Parks Dept. wants it to happen.
    Parks Dept or NYU?

  2. #182
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeW View Post

    The renovation is going to happen exactly how the Parks Dept. wants it to happen.
    Yes, I would change that ^ to "how NYU wants it" ...

    Except it will cost twice as much ... And taxpayers will end up paying the difference.

    Just wait and see.

  3. #183

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    Okay, I bite. What's the NYU angle? You guys think they're planning on plopping a new campus in the middle of the park or something? What do you think their agenda is on the renovation?

  4. #184
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    NYU uses WS Park for graduation ceremonies, has for years. As is they've complained that it's hardly big enough for all the graduates and their families. They want it more user friendly.

    NYU is also moving to enlarge the campus, which takes money -- which comes fom wealthy Alumni & their families.

    Hardly approprate for NYU to ask those folks to empty their pockets in the midst of chess players and pot sellers and folks frolicking in the fountain.

    Better in their view to have more flowers + less room to hang out. Idle hands / brains are the Devil's Playground, ya know ...

    When the renovators dig down to move the fountain and hit all the bones of folks who were buried on this site 150+ years ago then it will be interesting to see how much that slows down progess of the renovation.

  5. #185

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    ^
    Also, the original plans called for a higher perimeter fence. Although the park remains public, there's been an attempt to move it in the direction of the controlled Gramercy Park.

    The fountain plaza is being reconstructed at one grade to accommodate NYU's ceremonies. No one at Parks can defend the design superiority over the present amphitheater.

    Moving the fountain is just a diversion. The only thing that needs to be moved is Garibaldi - about 4 feet north.

  6. #186

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    ^
    Maybe part of the idea is to control the legendary drug sales in the park. Or do you consider this a good thing?

  7. #187

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    Any sense of lawlessness in the park comes from its rundown appearance, not a design flaw. No one is saying that the park shouldn't be renovated.

    And it could be done in less time for less money.

    New paving for all paths and perimeter sidewalk.
    New railings and park furniture.
    New park house
    New playgrounds.
    Repair the fountain (I don't buy the cost claim)
    New stonework in the plaza.
    Landscaping.

  8. #188

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    While this aspect of the fountain's destruction isn't new, this sad chapter in the park's history is now so long that I think it worthwhile to remind newcomers that it is NYU (through one of its largest donors, the Tisch Family), not the City of NY, that is paying for the vandalism, as reported 2.5 years ago in the Times:

    July 14, 2005

    Dropping $2.5 Million, and Name, Into Fountain

    By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

    The usually bone-dry concrete heart of Washington Square Park is about to get a formal name after being known simply as "the Fountain" for 130 years.

    But because the soon-to-be-called "Tisch Fountain" is the quirky center of a self-consciously unorthodox park in Greenwich Village, some neighbors have objected to the christening, particularly since the fountain is being named at the request of the Tisch Foundation. The organization, run by members of the family known for real estate, media and other holdings, has agreed to donate $2.5 million to restore the leaky fountain, which is rarely switched on, and the surrounding plaza.

    Further, city officials say the plan took them by surprise. Alan J. Gerson, who represents the district on the City Council, and several representatives of Community Board 2, which approved the park's $16 million makeover this year, said they had no idea the fountain was to be given a name until a few days ago, even though Mr. Gerson said he had asked the Parks Department whether it had considered granting naming rights in the park in exchange for contributions for the redesign.


    "This was done secretly by the Parks Department out of either total incompetence or total bad faith," Mr. Gerson said. "This raises a lot of questions beyond Washington Square Park about the public domain and privatization."


    Mr. Gerson said that when he had asked a Parks Department official this week why only a handful of people had been informed about the January 2005 contract between the city and the Tisch Foundation - which was signed by the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe - the official told him, "Well, no one asked us."

    Mr. Gerson said he did not favor returning the donation to the Tisch Foundation, but he was not exactly sure what his next step would be.

    The Parks Department declined to respond directly to Mr. Gerson's charges, but said it was common for fountains and other structures to be named for the people who underwrite their installation or restoration, including the Pulitzer Fountain, named for the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who contributed $50,000 for a fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel.


    "It follows in a very long line of philanthropic gifts going back many decades where the structure that is given or restored is named in honor of the donor," a Parks Department spokesman, Warner Johnston, said in a statement. "The Tisch gift has been widely discussed, and in fact was announced at several public events." He said the department had planned to announce the naming of the fountain later this summer.


    The agreement between the city and the Tisch Foundation, which was not made public but was obtained by a woman who lives near the park through a Freedom of Information Act request, calls for the foundation to make a $2.5 million gift dedicated to the fountain and plaza restoration.


    "We understand there will be two naming plaques on opposite sides of the fountain," which will be inscribed Tisch Fountain, the agreement states.

    The path toward Washington Square's redesign has been bumpy. Following a series of often rowdy public hearings this spring, the Parks Department backed down from a plan to place a fence and gate around the park. The redesign now calls for a short fence but no gate. The plan also calls for the fountain to be shifted about 20 feet to the east, to align with the Washington Arch.

    The fountain has for years been used by amateur performers to entertain crowds that grow to as many as several hundred on weekends. During graduations at New York University, when the fountain does spout, it has become a tradition for graduates to kick off their shoes and hop in.


    Copyright 2005 and 2007 The New York Times Company

  9. #189
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Some points about that article ....

    1) Evidence that Gerson (City Councilman for the WSP District) is a dupe a fool and now a tool.

    2) The Tisch Foundation / NYU could hardly have written a better PR pice -- it pretends to show both sides but really just greases the wheel for moving the fountain.

    3) $2.5 Million donated "to restore the leaky fountain, which is rarely switched on, and the surrounding plaza ..."
    a) "Rarely" turned on? Quite a broad, and not necessarily true, statement.

    b) As I said before, let's see what the cost overruns are --and who will end up paying for amounts over that $2.5 M.

  10. #190
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A blog posting from earlier this month, which includes a link to the text of
    the judge's decision allowing the WSP renovation to move forward ...

    A Lost Fight Over Washington Square Park’s Renovation

    NY TIMES
    City Room blog
    By John Sullivan
    December 6, 2007


    A schematic showing the renovation plans for Washington Square Park. Enlarge this image.

    It seems appropriate that the renovation of Washington Square Park would involve six years of planning, arguing and fighting. After all, a spot that has played host to marching suffragists, picketing workers and protesting beatniks should not ease into changes without a brickbat or two, even if they are only rhetorical.

    But after all the shouting, the city’s proposal to shift the park’s fountain into direct line with the Washington Square Arch, add more lawn and spruce up the statues and fixtures finally seems about to move forward. In a decision issued on Monday, a judge dismissed two remaining claims against the renovation plan. Filed on behalf of community activists, the lawsuits claimed that the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation plan would violate environmental rules and alter the nature of the park.

    Justice Joan A. Madden, of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, ruled that the changes proposed by the Parks Department [pdf] would not alter the free-speech and free-spirit nature of the park. But she seemed to put the Parks Department on notice in her ruling. She noted that she presumed the department’s “clear and unambiguous” promises that “the adjacent lawn areas be used as grassy extensions of the fountain plaza and will be open and accessible for political protests and artistic expression are true, and that both the Parks Department and the city will be bound by these representations in the future.”

    Under the plan, the fountain will shift 23 feet and move into line with the arch. The 9.3-acre park will have more area dedicated to lawns, and the dogs runs will be moved and spruced up. The statues of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a revolutionary and Italian national hero, and Alexander Lyman Holley, an engineer who revolutionized steelmaking, will be restored and relocated.

    Officials at the Parks Department said on Thursday that they were not sure when the work would start, although city lawyers said it would probably begin before the end of the year. The Law Department said the first of three phases, which involves moving the fountain and renovating the northwest section of the park, would take about a year. The entire job is expected to take two to three years.

    Daniel L. Alterman, the lawyer who represented people fighting the renovation, said his clients are considering an appeal, but he did not seem too upset with the ruling. Mr. Alterman pointed out that the judge echoed the primary concern of the opponents, that the park continue to serve as focus for free speech.

    “When freedom of expression conflicts with security these days we find government siding with security even when it does not have any meaning,” he said.

    Mr. Alterman also admits to a concern that the Parks Department could change a spot that has profound meaning to Greenwich Village.

    “This is Washington Square Park, it’s where Dylan played,” he said. “It’s all very special.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  11. #191

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    to restore the leaky fountain, which is rarely switched on,

  12. #192
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    One of the most objectionable parts of the plan is the removal of the banquettes around the fountain area, which have served as wonderful gathering places for musicians, artists, and just people relaxing. Every park has grass to sit on, we don't need more lawns, what was special here was the circular arrangement which is so conducive to small groups of people hanging out with friends and then ending up talking to the strangers seated nearby.
    It is a unique kind of space in this city and quite wonderful.

  13. #193
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    Unfortunatatey Tisch and the folks driving this could give a flying f about people hanging out.

    [as if those types are even in the City during summer months]

  14. #194

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    I've lived in the Village more years than I'm going to admit to in a public space tonight though not close to WSP; like many other parts of the neighborhood, I've always loved it while being repelled by the usual sentimental tales of its supposed lost Bohemian glory days (Dylan or, godhelpus, Ed Koch playing guitar down in the fountain).

    Possibly because I believed that the fix was in from the beginning, no matter how loud and long anyone tried to shout about or litigate the park's fate, I didn't pay much attention to the fight now lost. But when I did read up on the clamor every year or so, I do remember being frustrated at seeing so much energy being wasted over aspects of the redesign that no serious person could consider truly important (a difference of a few inches in the height of the perimeter fence, the fate of the asphalt "mounds," or even the precise ratio of grass vs. paving) and so little (comparatively) focused on the only proposed change that could alter the very character of the place -- the leveling of the fountain and the destruction of the gathering places that is surely the actual purpose of the redesign. Such fools.

  15. #195
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    As you say ^ the FIX was in ... from day one the endgame decided by the powers that be was that the fountain area would be moved / leveled.

    The rest -- fence height, the mounds, placement of the dog run -- was a distraction to keep folks from focusing / having any real impact on the main item: the fountain. Then they gave in on those lesser items, just to make it appear that they were amenable to an open discussion. All BS. Classic tactic.

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