Thoughts on Construction at Washington Square Park

new fountain hole at washington sq parkSomebody mentioned the other day that they walked by Washington Square Park and it looked like the whole place had been bulldozed. (Which … of course… a lot of it has.)

It’s true – when you walk by the Northwest Quadrant where the work is being done now – everything that was connected and seemed intimate and inviting about the space has been made to appear barren. There’s large concrete paths. There’s “plazas” but you won’t see or interact with the people sitting across from you because there will be ornamental flower beds between you and them. (Think suburban park.)

Flowers are beautiful, of course, but part of the charm of Washington Square Park is the ways in which you’d connect with others there. There will now be impediments to that. And it doesn’t feel like you would want to stroll through, it feels like a passageway. Of course, it’s not done yet.

Which brings me to the information I was told by City Council Member Alan Gerson at the City Council Parks Department Budget Hearing. He mentioned that Manhattan Community Board 2 has some say in some of the design (not the things most of us would like to see changed, but still) but they have not met to discuss it. He wasn’t sure why.

(Council Member Gerson – Washington Square Park falls in his district – acts as if there was just nothing he could do about the redesign of Washington Square Park – when clearly there was. He took the easy route and sold out his community.)

The work at Washington Square Park is proceeding and the Community Board hasn’t met to discuss it … do they think the Parks Department is waiting for their input?

J. Bary, who took this photo and has been photographing the work there, says there’s trees being dropped in around the new fountain location but – if so – I haven’t noticed them. It’s possible that they are mostly visible from high up – where he is taking his photos from. It’s also probable that I focus so intently on the hole in the ground where the “aligned” fountain is supposed to appear that I’ve missed them.