New "Mounds" at Washington Square Park Taking Shape – but in what form?


The somewhat controversial “Mounds” at Washington Square Park are starting to take some shape in the Southwestern mid-section of the park. Originally part of Phase II of the park’s redesign, they were moved into Phase III construction, going on now. I’ve always been a little confused by the Mounds — as I indicated in this post from 2008 — but I also respected the passionate ‘fight’ for them, what they offered and perhaps also represented to people with a longer history at the park.

I suspect, however, that they are becoming “cable-net play” structures and less “the Mounds” (which were also referred to as “the three hills”). There’s not really anyone overseeing what’s going on; the people who had been fighting for them with former Council Member Alan Gerson have long been silent.

What will be the end result be? It will be interesting to see. It would be great if Community Board 2 stepped in and asked for an update now that there is a new Parks Committee chair! (At last! Rich Caccappolo, who I do not know, has replaced Tobi Bergman, who had been Parks Committee chair for way too long.)

The Mounds are supposed to remain six feet high. This photo represents a ‘first look’ but doesn’t really look like they are going in that direction. Also, unfortunately, despite protest, they will be covered in artificial turf.

In the video that’s linked to below, one Mounds’ advocate states, “They are places of spontaneous play which is different from play equipment which sort of mandates play. The Mounds allow spontaneous play, discovery, risk taking, all the things that are part of growing up.”

It seems to me they are being turned into the opposite of this and will be “play equipment.” It would be good if there was some actual tracking of what the final result will be (before it is too late).

Go here to read this refresher on the Mounds; originally published December 16, 2008: What’s Up with the Mounds? Why People Like Them.
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Also, this links to another video of the Mounds being used for sleigh riding a few years back and is very sweet.

5 thoughts on “New "Mounds" at Washington Square Park Taking Shape – but in what form?

  1. I have fond memories of those hills in the 80’s when my Son rollerbladed up/down & all around – and then as he got older, watched them deteriorate to finally become fenced off. Also fond memories of him playing chess there. This ‘redo’ has taken so long, that I’ll just be glad to see it finally finished!

  2. Not sure when this occurred but the photo is very revealing. Looks like where there used to be tree roots there is now a trough. That means that any of the previously existing spreading tree roots that these trees depended upon, are now removed for the landscape architects new landscape feature- the trough. Based on past Capital practices root removal likely to have occurred mechanically by ripping and tearing. And any remaining roots to have been so compacted by machinery and traffic to only die a slow death by root suffocation. The abuse of public trees. Unless a serious attempt is made to fully remediate these root zones, it is fair to say that root suffocation and root loss shall in time present more dead trees to park users.

  3. Hi. thank you all for your comments. Georgia, I looked at the overall design and it was hard for my untrained eye to discern so it’s a good question, I don’t know if G.Vellonakis designed the Mounds or an outside firm. Will try to find out. Thanks.

    AFineLyne — thanks for your recollection. I agree it has taken a long time. Just a little concerned what will end up there! But we’ll see…

    Hi Urban Mole, thanks for your thoughts. Georgia also mentioned a trough. I’m not familiar with that term. My understanding was that – although wouldn’t be the first time that something was done differently than expected – the Mounds were being placed in the same exact location and I don’t recall tree … but I don’t know. Valid concerns you have raised. Thanks —

    Cathryn.

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