Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Washington Square Park on Tuesday, February 17th * How will City's presentation to LPC differ from bare bones presentation given to Community Board 2?

Strawberry Fields, Central Park (Designated Scenic Landmark 1974)
Strawberry Fields, Central Park (Designated Scenic Landmark 1974)

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday, February 17th around the Parks’ Department’s plans for Phase II of Washington Square Park redesign. If you’d like to see the plans, they are available as of today (February 12th) at the LPC.

The New York City Parks Department via landscape designer George Vellonakis showed some minimal “before-and-after” drawings of the plan to the Washington Square Park Task Force/Community Board 2 Parks Committee at their meeting last week (February 4).

Of course, it is nothing new for the Parks Department to try to ‘get away’ with presenting the bare minimum (and obscuring certain facts and figures) but will the Community Board or Task Force at last object?

The aspects of the park being altered in Phase II include:

– “Teen Plaza”/Garibaldi Plaza – reworking of the area and new stage (reduced in height and size)

– Removal of a number of the seating alcoves (one and a half is being preserved out of six)

-Reworking of the pathways in the park

-Reconfiguring (reduction) of the Northeast and Southwest “Plazas”

* According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission web site:

How does the Community Board participate in the Public Hearing Process?

[Applicant – in this case City of New York-Parks Department] must present your proposal to your local Community Board before the LPC public hearing. Typically you will appear before the Community Board’s Landmarks Committee; your presentation should be the same one that you use for the LPC. The Committee will then make a recommendation to the full Board, which will send a letter to the LPC stating that the Board supports, opposes or recommends modifications to the application. Failure to appear before the Community Board may result in a negative recommendation from the Board, and can delay the LPC’s final decision on your proposal.

Community Board 2 Chair Brad Hoylman says the Community Board is working on a resolution which will be presented to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. It is unclear if that will be a resolution from : the Washington Square Park Task Force? Community Board 2 as a whole? the Parks Committee of CB2? the Landmarks Committee of CB2 ? All of the above?

Mr. Hoylman also informed me that although the Landmarks Committee did not have its own presentation of the plan (it was on the committee’s agenda, and then subsequently removed) – and was not included in the February 4th meeting – that the committee has members who are also part of the Parks Committee (who will give input). I am unclear if that suffices. I was told by a member of the Landmarks Committee that typically when an applicant comes before the committee, the committee is shown: architectural renderings, examples of materials to be used, example of railings and how they are going to join, etc.

In other words, much more detail.

Since the Parks Department only showed minimal information at the Washington Square Park Task Force meeting on February 4th, will they be showing additional information to the Landmarks Preservation Commission? If so, is that acceptable to the Washington Square Park Task Force and Community Board 2?

If you plan to speak at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, please consider orienting your comments to the historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of the park’s design plan.

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Details: Tuesday, February 17th, time tbd(to be announced Friday, February 13th), Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Washington Square Park Next Phase Redesign, 1 Centre Street (at Chambers), 9th floor, Manhattan

Materials available for Public Viewing in advance as of today, Thursday, February 12th.

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, J, M, Z (Centre-Chambers Streets, City Hall-Brooklyn Bridge stops)

I will update with the time once announced.

Photo: Wally G