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Thread: Washington Square Park

  1. #46
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Looking at the Hi Res Pic:

    1. The Mounds seem to stay -- see the red outlined area at the SW corner

    2. Glad to see that the fountain will have steps ("Granite Steps") leading down to it -- though the removal of the raised perimeter will be missed (no doubt a nod to NY so that they can more easily cover it over during graduation ceremony).

    3. I was worried that the fountain would be surrounded by lawn area -- happy to see that a hard surface plaza area remains.

    4. Still not clear about the perimeter fence -- but anything above 30 - 36" is unneccessary.

    5. Moving the fountain to center on the Arch seems silly -- it now centers on Thompson Street to the south (rather than 5th Ave. to the north). Six of one/ half a dozen of the other -- but a VERY expensive move. Though the infrastructure renovation necessary to make the fountain workable for the next 50 years might have required the same or similar cost.

    6. Moving the dog runs to the perimeter of the park is a good move.

    If Madison Square re-do is any indication of what we will end up with at Washington Square then this should work out just fine.

  2. #47

    Default no "community" garden/dog run

    Looking at the park as it is now - have been walking my dog there for years.

    !. The park needs to be completely restored. I do not believe that rearranging some lawns/fountains/paved walkways will have any major "cultural" implications or "adverse effect" on society at large.

    2. The dog run (in the new and improved) park needs to prohibit the establishment of a "community garden" and thus keep it a "public" space.
    I think that rule is even in the bible - "thow shalt not covet thy neighbors public space" (L-out-L) Or, somethong like that.

    cheers

  3. #48

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    I applaude the park renovation but have to agree with some of the posts here:

    1. Since when did "renovate" become "sterilize"? I notice the design, while nice, is just that... nice. It has the same 1880s era-throw-back-nostalgia touches that 95% of all park renovations seem to have -- hasn't the colmbus circle renovation demonstrated it is possible to have something slightly contemporary that still makes a great public space? And why does the design of the park have to deliberately try to prevent its appropration by transient uses like musicians and public speeches and random vendors? I don't mean appropriation like private garderns, i mean people sitting and using it for a few hours, instead of just walking briefly through it.

    2. The curfew? What?!@@!? It always seems in NY that they renovate a place and then make it impossible to use (i.e. great lawn in central park). Add better lighting and allow this to become one of the few parks safely accessible at night in the entire city (safe because it can be seen entirely from the permiter, and hence is no danger).

    I understand the need to protect the citizens of this city from drug peddlers and petty criminals (though I too see no problem with the odd joint at a jam session) but that's what the police are for -- you don't just shut the park down.

    That being said, I am glad they are doing something.

  4. #49
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infoshare
    I do not believe that rearranging some lawns/fountains/paved walkways will have any major "cultural" implications or "adverse effect" on society at large.
    That's a little overstated, but some elements do provide more special atmosphere: the three foot wall on the outer perimeter of the fountain with large old trees jutting out provides the little cozy alcoves that people enjoy so much. This feature plus the raised fountain edge encourage stopping and staying - it's where the guitar players are drawn to, where people enjoy sitting on a wall under a nice shady tree, and where little groups gather and socialize, more so than elsewhere in the park. I just don't see how that can be replicated with a flattened plaza and removal of the big old trees.

    Though the park definitely could use a lot of restoration, don't completely remove the few areas that work so well. I can't see the park having the same flavor if these unique features are removed, even though it might make it prettier and better for graduation ceremonies. Hopefully similar new areas will be provided, but I doubt it.

  5. #50

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    I would have kept the wall around the fountain. It really separates the people sitting on the steps from the people walking through.

  6. #51

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    The park only needed some of the shabbiness repaired, not a major redesign. It'sthe polar-opposite of Bryant Park, which while nice, has become a corporate plaza.


  7. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by NYatKNIGHT
    That's a little overstated, but some elements do provide more special atmosphere: the three foot wall on the outer perimeter of the fountain with large old trees jutting out provides the little cozy alcoves that people enjoy so much.
    Agreed, a bit overstated. Particularly as I harp back to how IMO good the Irish Famine (BPC) memorial "functions" to bring improve the quality of live in that community.
    i stand (marginally) corrected.

    cheers

  8. #53
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    Park related question: Does anyone know of any photos/plans/updates on the reconstruction of Central Park's Heckscher Playground? I searched the web and couldn't find much in the way of visuals or plans.

  9. #54
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Looking at the new plans, I noticed that Washington Square West and Washington Square East are labeled wrong. I'm not crazy am I?

  10. #55
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Don't know if you're crazy or not, but they are indeed labelled wrong.

  11. #56

    Default archi-crime

    Good heavens - the fountain IS out of alignment with 5th AVe. and the Arch.

    I am sure that mis-alignment has had some detrimental impact on the "community" - perhape leaving one feeling "disoriented - ailenated" resulting in the need to purchase drugs, and behave in a free-spirited and permiscuious manner.

    And we thought it was the 60s counter-culture all along.

    Quick - move that fountian 22 feet to the east,,,befor another impressionable youth is adversly affected by 'bad achitectural influences'. (l-o-l)

    yew - and I just wanted to test my new G earth software!

    cheers
    Last edited by infoshare; December 22nd, 2007 at 03:30 PM.

  12. #57
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandySavage
    Park related question: Does anyone know of any photos/plans/updates on the reconstruction of Central Park's Heckscher Playground? I searched the web and couldn't find much in the way of visuals or plans.
    I've only seen the plans that are displayed on the fence at he perimeter of Heckschler. when I was last there a coule of weeks ago it looked as if the main part of the Playground has been completed, and that they are now working on the final bits where the swing sets used to be (atthe south edge).

    With the ongoing re-do of the nearby run down areas outside the playground this entire southern portion of the Park will be completed (although from looking at some of the plans displayed I don't think they've solved the pathway problem between the Park Drive and the Playground).

  13. #58
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Re: Heckscher Playground ...

    Go here http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/sh...4&postcount=59 for more info.

  14. #59

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    when will they finish redoing washington square and when will they start for that matter?

  15. #60
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    I hope Gerson holds fast on his position on this.

    To turn that fountain into a decorative viewing-only waterworks would definitely be a bad move for the Village ...


    Courtesy of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

    A 1935 photo taken from the Washington Square Arch of neighborhood
    children playing in the park’s fountain. The fountain had been converted
    to a water-play feature the year before with water jets installed in the
    fountain’s eight piers. A central plume was added in 1970.
    Today, the eight side jets operate at just a dribble and are only used
    to fill the fountain with water. Under the Parks Department renovation,
    the side jets will be fixed and fully turned on again for eight months
    of the year but will be for decorative purposes only.

    Gerson may pull funds if fountain is no-play zone

    By Lincoln Anderson
    The Villager
    http://www.thevillager.com/villager_...pullfunds.html

    There’s a water war brewing. No, it doesn’t involve Bolivia and a greedy multinational corporation, but rather children’s right to frolic in Washington Square Park’s fountain and the Parks Depart-ment’s plans that would say otherwise.

    Under its $16 million renovation project for the square, Parks intends to convert the fountain to use recirculating water, as opposed to fresh water, which it has always used until now.

    During a year of hearings on the renovation, the water switch was never mentioned publicly until Jan. 9, when the Parks Department presented the plan to the Art Commission, which approved moving the park’s fountain 22 feet to line up with the arch.

    (However, two weeks earlier, in an article about a disabled Greenwich Village woman’s threat to sue for wheelchair access to the fountain, The Villager first reported the plan to change the type of water in the fountain and how children, consequently, would no longer be allowed to play in it.)

    Now, City Councilmember Alan Gerson, who grew up nearby the park and played in the mid-1800s fountain basin as a child, and the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 are calling on the Parks Department to preserve the fountain’s historic use as a kids’ wading pool by making sure the H2O is safe for them to play in.

    Last Thursday, Gerson, in his remarks at the C.B. 2 full board meeting, announced he might even pull City Council funding for the project if Parks doesn’t assure the fountain’s water will be clean enough for kids and others to go into — and that they must be allowed to go into it. He noted the first time he heard about the water issue was only at the Art Commission hearing earlier this month.

    “I was distressed to hear at that hearing about a possible impingement to the use of the fountain that could preclude human entrance into the fountain area, which is a historic use of the fountain area,” Gerson told C.B. 2. Gerson said he’s “committed to filtering the water — whatever — so people can continue to sit on the steps, to run into the fountain water and not to have to worry about the health effects of the water.”

    A view looking north of what the planned
    new water display would look like with the
    fountain centered on the arch.
    (The urns shown above will not be added
    to the restored fountain, however, having
    been rejected earlier this month by the
    Art Commission.)

    Parks also intends to have a water display running in the fountain from April to November, including a 45-foot-high central spouting plume and eight arcing side jets. At the Art Commission hearing earlier this month, Byron Kim, one of the commission’s 11 members, as well as some other commissioners, expressed concern both about noise and spray from the water display and the fact that it was, again, the first they had heard about it.

    Gerson also has trepidations about the water display and has warned Parks that the water jets must not blast kids and others right out of the fountain.

    “I am adamant in insisting that the Parks Department stick to its word that it would construct the plume and sprays to allow sitting in the fountain and [children] running in the fountain — and I will hold them to that,” Gerson told C.B. 2. He added, “I will deem any change to the historic use of the fountain as contrary to the spirit and letter of the agreement that we reached [with the Parks Department] and would consider pulling Council funding [for the renovation].”

    Gerson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn in October of last year negotiated an agreement with Parks that includes assurances that, among other things, Parks will rebuild the park’s dilapidated children’s play mounds, provide a permanent elevated concert space and keep the square footage of the plaza ringing the fountain at no less than 90 percent its current size.

    Following the Art Commission’s Jan. 9 vote, Gerson spoke later that night at the C.B. 2 Parks Committee, informing them of the plan to use recirculating water in the fountain.

    The Parks Committee unanimously passed a resolution stating that since members of the public, and especially children, enter the fountain, and will probably continue to do so despite any potential new regulations, it would be unhealthy for them to do this if the water is recirculating; the committee’s resolution urges Parks to use fresh water or, if necessary, get a variance from the appropriate agency to allow for use of fresh water.

    Under new city code regulations enacted after the last drought, any park fountain using more than 2,000 gallons of water a day must use recirculating water. The Washington Square Park fountain is currently grandfathered allowing use of fresh water.

    However, Maria Derr, C.B. 2 chairperson, recommended the committee resolution be tabled and sent back to the committee since George Vellonakis, the renovation’s designer, wasn’t present at the January Parks Committee meeting at which the resolution was approved. The board voted to table the resolution till next month.

    Last month, Warner Johnston, a Parks spokesperson, said that after the renovation, parents will be encouraged to have their children play in the park’s water sprinklers instead of the fountain. One sprinkler exists now and another may be added in the renovation.

    As for performances in the basin, there will be adjustable controls so the water can be turned down to allow these, but it will mainly be a decorative fountain from now on, Parks says.

    “It’s an ornamental fountain. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked very well in recent years,” Johnston said. “The fountain is broken and we have to do repairs constantly, which is part of the reason we are restoring it. It’s the primary reason why we are taking the opportunity to move it 22 feet.”

    Johnston said, per city code, the fountain’s recycled water would be chlorinated, but it wouldn’t be checked “every hour” like a city swimming pool is. People will still be allowed to climb over the fountain’s lip and sit on the three inside steps, he said.

    “The water itself is only about six inches deep,” Johnston said, “so people will be able to sit on the [fountain’s] inside steps. And as you know, we have complete control of the sprays, so that people will not be splashed by the water. And the water will be safe, though it’s not potable.”

    Gerson said he subsequently spoke to Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro two times last week, on Thursday and Friday, and feels he received assurance something will be done to make the water safe for playing, foot dangling and wading.

    “It would be totally unacceptable for there to be a prohibition for anyone of any age going into the fountain because of unsafe water,” Gerson told The Villager. “The Parks Department never presented any proposal to change the fountain’s use to the community board or to me. It’s never been discussed and it’s not acceptable. We should get on with the project and not risk delay by proposing any changes to use of the park.”

    The Village councilmember said he vaguely but fondly remembers playing in the fountains on sweltering days when he was very young, probably, he thinks, before the park’s playgrounds had sprinklers.

    “This is not a swimming pool,” Gerson continued. “It’s not a wading pool. But it’s a historic symbolism of the Village and the park. And freedom to enter the water, splash around and just get wet has been a tradition — but mainly [for] youngsters.”

    Gerson said he’s given Parks a couple of more days to tell him how they will work out the water issue. While stressing it’s only a “hypothetical,” he said if what Parks offers doesn’t satisfy him, he’ll look into pulling unexpended Council funds from the project.

    Johnston said Parks would have no comment on Gerson’s threat to withdraw unused funding unless kids can still play in the fountain.

    Arthur Schwartz, the C.B. 2 Parks Committee chairperson, also feels strongly that children and others should not be barred from going into the water in the fountain.

    “The promise was the fountain’s historic uses wouldn’t be changed,” Schwartz said. “Whether it was allowed or not, people in the fountain were never chased out of there.” Schwartz said he’s also concerned about the noise from the water display.

    As to why the water and use of the fountain are only becoming issues now, Schwartz said, “People were so focused on the location [of the fountain] and [preserving] the sunken area [around the fountain] that they weren’t focused on the fountain.”

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