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Thread: Washington Square Park

  1. #1

    Default Washington Square Park

    Joey Joey doing tricks. He also swallows swords.

    Little girls enjoying the entertainment.

  2. #2
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Washington Sq. redesign to go public; some think it’s too late

    January 19 -25, 2005
    By Lincoln Anderson

    As plans for the refurbishment of Washington Sq. Park are set for a public unveiling early next month, The Villager has learned essential details of the project’s design.

    At the same time, after getting his first look at the design on Jan. 6, Clay Bushong, a co-chairperson of the Washington Sq. Park Council and a member of the Community Board 2 task force that has been discussing the project in private meetings for the past year, abruptly resigned in frustration from the Council. Bushong said he felt the redesign process has not been public enough and specifically expressed dissatisfaction with plans for the park’s dog run and two playgrounds.

    The design will be presented at C.B. 2’s Parks Committee on Feb. 2 at a location — probably somewhere in New York University — to be determined.

    The Villager spoke to Bill Castro, Manhattan borough Parks Department commissioner; Bushong and the other two co-chairpersons of the Washington Sq. Park Council; Aubrey Lees, C.B. 2’s Parks Committee chairperson; and Michael Haberman, N.Y.U. director of government and community relations, regarding the details of the plan. Lees and Haberman are co-chairpersons of the C.B. 2 Washington Sq. Task Force.

    A main feature of the plan for the 11-acre, landmarked park is to raise its sunken central plaza to grade. Also, as currently configured, the park’s two dog runs — one for regular-sized dogs and one for small dogs — will be put next to each other and relocated to the park’s southern perimeter across from Judson Church. The Teen Plaza, a raised area in the park’s southeastern area near LaGuardia Pl., on which the Washington Sq. Music Festival performs, will be replaced with a lawn. The statues of Garibaldi and Holley in the centers of the two ovals to the east and west of the central plaza will be moved to the ovals’ north edges, opening sightlines and creating potential small performance spaces. The plan currently has no provision for restoring the mounds — the dilapidated children’s climbing hills that are subject of periodic eruptions by parents who want them renovated. Under the design, the mounds would become another grassy lawn. In addition, the plan calls for a waist-high, wrought-iron fence to replace the current pipe railing around the park’s perimeter. The Parks Department is also considering reducing the number of chess tables in the park to cut down on “chess hustling” and also because it’s felt some of the park’s drug-dealing scene is mixed in among the chess tables. Some trees could potentially be removed to open up sightlines, but this has not been determined yet.

    A Parks spokesperson said the department is not making the plan available prior to the Feb. 2 C.B. 2 Parks Committee meeting.

    Bushong, who is also vice president of the Washington Sq. Park dog run, said, while Parks is saying the dog runs won’t lose any square footage, he’s upset at the space’s shape, which he likened to a narrow racetrack with “nooks and crannies” where dogs will be hidden from owners’ view. He assured that the dog run group will turn out in force at the Parks Committee meeting. The dog run was originally planned for the park’s southeast corner, but was moved — as Haberman confirmed to The Villager — because N.Y.U. feels it’s inappropriate to have a dog run near its Bobst Library.

    Bushong and the other two co-chairpersons of the Washington Sq. Park Council, Sara Goodman and Matt Bardin, also are concerned whether the park’s two playgrounds will get renovated as part of the park’s refurbishment. Bushong said Parks told him the Washington Sq. Park Council will have to raise the funds separately for the playgrounds. So far, the Council has raised $250,000 for the park’s redesign.

    All of them parents with young children, Bushong, Goodman and Bardin got involved with the Washington Sq. Park Council after attending a meeting on the park’s redesign last December. Bushong said he had been told that helping fundraise for the park would get him a “seat at the table” in the redesign, but he now feels cheated.

    For her part, Goodman says the redesign is good and thinks people will like it. Bardin’s opinion is somewhere in the middle of Bushong and Goodman, with Bushong clearly the most disillusioned at the results so far.

    Lees said she favors the idea of opening up the park and creating more green space. She said she is not sorry that the mounds — which she called “huge, old, falling-apart tar pits — or tar mounds” — are not being renovated. She said she feels the process has been public and that the upcoming board meetings in February will give the community a chance to weigh in on the plan. Asked if there would be any more meetings than those in February, she said it’s possible. Asked if Board 2 would sponsor a special public hearing — as the board often does for important or contentious issues — devoted to Washington Sq. Park, Lees said the upcoming Parks Committee meeting will be exactly such a public hearing.

    “The emphasis is on refurbishing and making repairs to the park — it’s nothing drastic,” Lees said. “Nothing’s been etched in stone. It reflects what a park should be, which is green and open and fixed up, with places to sit and not falling apart.”

    However, Lees did stress an urgency to get moving, noting that a delay could possibly cause the loss of money that has been allocated for the project.

    Haberman similarly said he felt the process has been going very well and is ongoing and there will be chance for public input. He stressed that the current design is a “master plan” that can be elaborated on.

    Castro said he plans to meet with both the dog run group and the Washington Sq. Park Council about the playgrounds as early as next week. As for the playgrounds, he said they may well be included in the park’s rehab, but that this is still being worked out. Castro said he’s not unsympathetic to the chess tables, either, noting that his uncle, Tony Ribando, a former president of the famed Marshall Chess Club on W. 10th St., is a daily regular at the tables.

    Castro said the park project will be done in two phases, so as to keep half the park open at any given time. The intent is to start the first phase in June, five months from now, finishing in nine months to a year, Castro said. The next phase would start immediately after and take about as long. The project currently is budgeted at $16 million, with a $4 million maintenance endowment. Castro said about $6.5 million has been raised so far between private and government monies.

    Bushong, who attended almost all the task force meetings, claims there was frequently talk of the need to keep “the crazies” and “the mounds people” out of the process, so that it would not get derailed.

    “Every meeting we had there was a reference to ‘the mounds people,’ that they controlled too much [park area],” he noted.

    He said at one point, someone on the task force referred to the more involved community process for designing the Hudson River Park, derisively noting how there had even been a “Screw Committee” to select which screws would be used in the park.

    Castro and Haberman said they didn’t recall any talk about “crazies,” “mounds people” or a “Screw Committee” at the meetings.

    Mounds advocate Eliza Nichols, associate provost of New School University, whose father, landscape architect Robert Nichols, was a part of the community-led redesign of the park in 1970, said she was “not surprised” to hear the mounds were not in the current plan. She said she hopes Castro and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe are “men of their word” and fulfill earlier promises to restore the mounds.

    Bushong and the Washington Sq. Park Council had wanted to have the Project for Public Spaces get involved in the redesign, but as of now, P.P.S. will only conduct a forum on programming in the park. Yet, Castro said the idea was always to have P.P.S. only deal with programming.

    Lees is sure people will support the plan once they see it.

    “People should look at it before they have a nervous breakdown,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who would object to more grass in Washington Sq. Park.”

    Similarly, to Bushong and others who are already starting to worry, Castro urged calm. “Everyone should just take a chill pill and relax,” he said. “We want to move the project along, but we want to make sure there is consensus among everyone as we move this project forward.”

    The Villager

  3. #3


    In the last few days, I've read about Mole People, Subway Tunnel Incendiary People, and now Mounds People.

    Will Mounds Person work on a resumé?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2003
    The Catskills


    I sense an opportunity for naming rights:

  5. #5


    March 5, 2005


    Defending the Hills of the Village


    ASHINGTON SQUARE PARK stretches from here all the way over to, well, here. But in a crowded city where the key to private serenity is a thrown elbow, and where subway cars are so packed they might constitute rolling conjugal visits, its 10 acres are the Great Plains of Greenwich Village, where children play, dogs frolic, and drug dealers peddle, all without bumping into one another.

    This national treasure of a park has paid the price of its popularity, though, with cracked sidewalks, a historic fountain in disrepair and a sense that it is on the brink of becoming an extended dog run for humans. Long ago the dealers became the official park greeters, offering their services to anyone in need of something to smoke.

    Although previous proposals to renovate the park met with strong opposition - who among us wants their backyard closed for construction? - the city's Department of Parks and Recreation finally announced its determination to conduct a two-phase, wholesale restoration that would begin in late summer. Since then, every conceivable vested interest has raised a voice at meetings large and small, save for the dealers, who remain outside, whispering: "Smoke? Smoke?"

    There is the Washington Square Park Task Force and the Open Washington Square Park Coalition. There is the Washington Square Park Dog Run Association and the Washington Square Small Dog Run group. There are the champions of the playgrounds, the defenders of the summer music festival, the protectors of the chess games, and a man named Arnie, who speaks for the Scrabble contingent.

    In the fine tradition of Village dissent, some say the city's plan is a $16 million mistake. The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park - yes, another coalition - says the proposed restoration is needlessly broad and would reduce the park to a closed construction site. Better to focus on basic improvements, the coalition says, while also keeping the park open.

    The Manhattan parks commissioner, William T. Castro, says that city officials have addressed many concerns by making various changes to the original plan. Attendance has gradually dropped at recent public hearings and the last meeting was exceedingly civil, he said, which might mean that a silent majority is approaching grudging acceptance of the project.

    "It's not that everyone doesn't have an interesting point," he said. "It's when they're in conflict with somebody else's that is a problem. And at some point, after compromises and meeting people halfway, you have to move forward."

    TRY telling that to the Mounds People. Not the Clay People of Flash Gordon fame, or the Mole People once rescued by Superman, but the Mounds People of Greenwich Village. They are the guardians of the mounds, a closed-off manmade formation of three black lumps that rise a few feet from the ground, not far from where chess hustlers beseech passers-by to try their luck at the Game of Kings.

    Some people might see the mounds and think: The city really ought to remove these eruptions from the face of the park.

    The city plans to do exactly that, and to replace them with a play area for adolescents. But the Mounds People see them as beloved remnants of a playground that was state of the art in its day, the scene of first downhill steps taken by their toddlers. What's more, says Leonie Haimson, a spokeswoman for a group called Save the Mounds, "They're the only hills for miles around in Lower Manhattan."

    Ah yes, the cynic might say, the four-foot Himalayas of Lower Manhattan. The view must be spectacular from up there, but no shouting, please. Avalanches, you know.

    But like the dog owners and the chess people, the Mounds People present a passionate argument. Conceding that the mounds are in disrepair - the city's fault, they say - they contend that they have broad community support, and they have raised enough money to cover them with a child-friendly green surface to play on.

    "There are swings all over, there are slides all over," says Amy Kaplan, of the mounds cause. "The mounds are unique."

    Aubrey Lees, the chairwoman of Community Board 2's parks committee, is quite familiar with the Mounds People's position, but does not sound as though she's about to belt out "Climb Every Mountain."

    "There's a certain segment of the community with a strong emotional attachment to the mounds," she says. "But there's a larger part of the community that think it's hideous."

    So another corner of the city tries for communal balance. The other day, near the mounds, a hustler called out, "Chess?" The passer-by answered, "Checkers."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    My favorite compaint is that the wrought-iron fence that's being planned will violate the First Amendment, since it includes gates that will close when the park shuts down for the night.

    I think it's most obvious, however, that something needs to be done, and soon.

    How long can we expect this renovation to go on? Bryant Park's took around four years, and there was a seven-year initial revitalization project before that.

  6. #6


    This is ridiculous. Considering its location, one descriptive word for the park - crappy.

    Some people would accept minor cosmetic improvements just to avoid construction inconvenience.

    I'm confused about one point: Washington Square Small Dog Run group.

    Are they advocates of small dogs or small runs?

  7. #7
    Forum Veteran
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    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Washington Square Park has two dog runs: one for small dogs, the other for large dogs. So the group is for a dog run for small dogs.

  8. #8


    It is a group of square shaped,smallish canines from the D.C.area,currently living in Manhattan.Apparently they still have strong influence in Washington.Some advocacy group(ACLU ??PETA ??)is petitioning the City on behalf of the visiting dogs for their right to run in packs if they feel it is necessary.Also,being square shaped dogs makes them an instant minority,deserving of all the rights other minorities expect,like running in packs or pissing on the sidewalks.
    Once they get Washington Square,they are going after the Broadway medians.
    I thought everybody knew about this.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Hof
    Also,being square shaped dogs makes them an instant minority,deserving of all the rights other minorities expect,like running in packs or pissing on the sidewalks.
    Are you serious?

  10. #10


    Hof, that is hilarious.

  11. #11
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    Feb 2003
    New York City


    May 4, 2005

    Washington Square Renovation Slated

    After more than 40 years of proposals, schemes, and false starts, the renovation of the 10-acre Washington Square Park is scheduled to begin late this summer.

    The renovation, to unfold in two phases over a period of three years, calls for sweeping changes to both the landscape and the layout of the park at the bottom of Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village.

    "The restoration is a bit of a patchwork of several eras of design," the city parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said of the $16 million project.

    The first phase calls for relocating the fountain 20 feet to the east, to align it with the Washington Square Arch; elevating the sunken plaza to street level for handicap accessibility, and landscaping the northwest section of the park. The fountain, whose plumbing Mr. Benepe said is "limping along," will be repaired, and architectural details that have disappeared from its perimeter will be replaced. During the first phase, half of the park will be closed off.

    Other changes include increasing the grassy areas and trimming down the expanses of pavement left over from the days when Fifth Avenue cut through the park.

    The remainder of the renovation calls for relocating the park's two dog runs, building new play areas with more adventurous equipment, and installing a 3-foot-high fence around the perimeter, similar to one removed from the park in the 19th century.

    The first phase of the project has already received full financing, partly through fund-raising efforts organized by the community in partnership with New York University, which also has committed $1 million to the project.

    Although the plans have roused some objects by nearby residents - some have objected to the fountain's relocation, others to the installation of a gated fence - Community Board 2 passed, by a large majority, a resolution supporting the first phase of renovations, according to the chairman of Community Board 2's parks committee, Aubrey Lees.

    Ms. Lees concedes that efforts to develop a cohesive renovation plan have sparked some rather heated battles among community groups, several of which are dedicated solely to the park's activities and upkeep, such as the Open

    Washington Square Park Coalition, the Washington Square Park Dog Run Association, and the Mounds People of Greenwich Village - guardians of the park's famed mounds, which are to be removed during the renovation.

    Opponents have raised concerns that the fence would act as a safety hazard during mass events, or as a means of psychological imprisonment. Some students have voiced opposition to turning the park into a construction zone. And others have opposed elevating the sunken fountain because it is a signature feature of the park.

    "Not everyone will be pleased," Mr. Benepe said. "But we have to do it now because we have the money." He said a similar effort to renovate the park was thwarted in the 1980s by community disagreements, and the money was pulled.

    "We are not talking about putting in a nuclear waste dump," the parks commissioner said. "We are building a park."

    Those who have concerns or suggestions are invited to take them directly to the project's landscape architect, George Vellonakis, who has been sitting in the park each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., armed with large diagrams and renderings, and eager to answer questions.

  12. #12


    the installation of a gated fence
    What do they mean by gated?

  13. #13
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    New York City


    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    What do they mean by gated?
    As in there will be gates, that open and close, at the entrances to the park.

  14. #14


    Gates that close are sometimes locked...unless they mean the big and small dog runs.

  15. #15
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    Nov 2002
    New York City


    No, they mean the whole park...and the gates will be locked.

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