City Parks Department's "Regulations" Take Away From the Very Spirit of What People Come to Washington Square Park For – No Performances Allowed Near Fountain, Benches

At the Occupy Washington Square Park meeting last week, I caught the end of a comment from a woman stating that performers were getting ticketed more frequently at the park. I did not know the so-called “reason” behind this but it appears in this week’s Villager“Musicians are told to keep their distance – from fountain, seats!” :

[Doris] Diether, a member of Community Board 2 and a contributor to this newspaper, said that three guitar players who perform in Washington Square told her that PEP officers told them that performers could not play while sitting on a park bench. The rule is that musicians must stand 5 feet from a bench and 50 feet from a monument or fountain.

Diether said she was hand-feeding a squirrel in the south side of the park on Wed., Oct. 26. when a man told her, “Watch out, I got a $50 fine for feeding squirrels here.”

Despite the common conviction that the enforcement policy in Washington Square is stricter than ever, a Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson said on Wednesday that nothing is special about the current enforcement.

At Washington Square Park the existing regulations are intended to keep paths clear and allow all park users to move about freely and see monuments and views,” said Philip Abramson. He confirmed that performers must stand 5 feet away from benches and cannot perform within 50 feet of a monument or fountain.

This “regulation” requiring performers to stand “5 feet away from benches” and not perform “within 50 feet of a monument or fountain” seems to be a rule to have a rule, to put forth arbitrary order. This is allegedly so people can “move about freely” and “see monuments and views” (that last bit sounds like George Vellonakis-speak) – this takes away from the very spirit that people have historically come to Washington Square Park for; away from what the park’s reputation and very essence is all about.