Bloomberg's Privatization of the Park: NYU, Tisch, Who Else?

Phase I of the City’s extensive planned “renovation” of Washington Square Park has gone from a projected $6 million to over $13 million. The “renovation’s” TOTAL costs — in two Phases — were stated to be $16 million at the onset (an excessive sum to begin with) but are now lurching upwards to $25-30 million.

Where will the money come from? Since most everyone believes that Washington Square Park could manage with a few repairs on a relatively minor budget, it seems like a tailor made scheme for future privatization of the Park.

Of course, the elephant in the room is New York University whose advertising pitches and promotional materials all feature Washington Square Park’s Arch (a public space, last we checked) larger than life. On the subway the other day, I saw five ads across the car for NYU’s School of Continuing Professional Studies — the Arch was bigger than anything else in the ad.

NYU is throwing in $1 million thus far for the “renovation” of the Park despite their insistence that they are “not involved.” We received a copy of a letter the University sent from their Community Affairs office to their “neighbors” recently. It stated that “the University believes it (the Park) has been in need of renovation for some time” … “though NYU had no hand in the specifics of the Park’s redesign.” ??

With the Tisch Family providing $2.5 million towards the reconstruction of the historic circular fountain — guaranteeing them the naming rights, thereby “officially” renamed TISCH FOUNTAIN with a plaque on each side — NYU’s $1 million(a small sum, for them, towards this spot that they use in all their advertising and as the site of their graduation ceremonies), will the city ultimately – with costs skyrocketing out of control – commission other corporate naming rights within the Park? (The Walmart Garibaldi Statue perhaps?)

Now, I realize Mayor Bloomberg would not have a problem with this, but I do. I don’t want every last inch of public space corporatized and particularly not Washington Square Park.

Other questions: Will the City set up a Conservancy and further privatize the park enabling them to hold exclusive ticketed events? Will they close off the Park to the public which, of course, will be easier once they erect their proposed four foot fence?

14 thoughts on “Bloomberg's Privatization of the Park: NYU, Tisch, Who Else?

  1. “The incredibly shrinking public sphere” There is no democracy without a place for people to meet and talk, an “equal playing field” — literally, not metaphorically. People don’t realize how critical public space is politically. As public space becomes little to nothing, we are ever closer to being mere peasants bowing to feudal (and few) lords. Public space is not about having a few green lawns for dog runs, its about community spirit, egalitarianism and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the founding fathers in their description of the “social contract.”

    Thank you so much for starting this blog — it is critical to educate others in understanding the importance of public space!

  2. this is the strip malling and turning america into one giant POLICE STATE! This is rediculous, to think of the many great times we have all gone into the park just to listen to music ‘happenings’ there,. This is just one more thing to corportize all of america. When will this stop? When all of america is one giant mcdonald’s happy meal???????

    Thanks for giving out this vital information………

  3. NYU uses the historical Washington Square Arch as their logo and yet they tear down historical buildings like St. Ann’s Church from 1847 at 120 East 12th Street and Edgar Allen Poe House. NYU’s logo should be the Palladium mega dorm with a dollar bill so they can still use our first President and convey their true values.

    NYU gains the most from this unnecessary park renovation because they are the no. 1 real estate magnate and they probably own most of the property surrounding the park. NYU has destroyed the beauty of the park with the most hideous modern architecture so why would the city spend multi-millions to move the fountain and rip up healthy trees when nothing can obscure NYU’s hideous ugly student center and Bobst Library?

    I imagine NYU students and tourists are the ones that benefit from this wasteful spending but with so many other parks in need of help in poorer areas of the city and more budget cuts to come it is hard to fathom this money is being spent when the majority of the community feels is a waste and unwanted. We don’t want the park fenced off for years. We never wanted NYU student graduation in the park because it is a public park and why does NYU get to turn out the public out of our won park for their graduation? This vanity make over is about real estate and the no. 1 real estate magnate is NYU and we know how much the mayor favors NYU as he turned a deaf ear to our pleas to protect St. Ann’s which survived from 1847 until NYU’s destroyed this stunning building because of their need and greed for yet another NYU mega dorm.

    Next maybe the mayor will offer up parts of the Statue of Liberty for vanity plates for mega wealth to remind us we owe them thanks or something…..? Also can there be a rule that after a “not for profit” org. buys up x amount of property in NYC they have to start paying real estate taxes which are greatly needed for the people so we would have money for city services, prevent lay offs, keep libraries open and help out with health care, etc and also can we charge NYU for their use of the words “New York”?

  4. We already have a children’s zoo and a hospital named after a tobacco baron–now a fountain??

    Joe Cherner said to Larry Tisch: “Everyone knows you gave $50 million to New York University Hospital. It even changed its name to Tisch Hospital. This is the first time in the history of philanthropy that one man has provided the patients, the insurance, and the hospital.”

    Jimmy Breslin of the Daily News wrote, “One of their (Loews’ / Lorillard’s) brands is True. I know this because I know two people who died from True. Another brand is Newport. I can take Laurence Tisch, his son, his brother, Bob Tisch, and the whole Tisch family to St. John’s Cemetery in Queens and show them a Newport smoker. That the Tisches sell cancer did not mark their money lousy, as it should have, when they gave it to NYU.”

  5. It was good to read the above info about the park it’s been over 10 years since I’ve been there. I can’t determine what effect would the further privatization of the park have not being a local but local authorities think like business and act accordingly I guess. However it is certain better if the parks (in general) are controlled by the local council as it generally can be used for more “public” purposes.

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