Mark your calendars. Next Wednesday, June 5th, 6:30 p.m., the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 will at last meet to “discuss” and hold a public hearing around the installation of a private Conservancy at Washington Square Park.
Location to be announced. Public comment welcomed.
At the May 1st Parks Committee meeting, Committee Chair Rich Caccappolo stated that the Community Board had received a “huge response” on the topic.
There are so many problems with the private Conservancy already, it is hard to know where to begin. First and foremost is that the Community and park users explicitly stated that they did not want a private Conservancy at WSP, and, secondly, IF such a thing were to be discussed, it was agreed that it would – at least – be an “open and transparent process” (per former Council Member Alan Gerson).
Former Community Board 2 Chair and now NY State Senator Brad Hoylman said, of conservancies:
“I’m not supportive of conservancies in general for parks because I think that the design, operations and management of public parks should remain transparent and accountable to the local communities they serve. The conservancy model has a tendency to undermine these goals.”
In fact, a document from the early days of the Washington Square Park Task Force states as one of the oversight body’s ten goals, “Oppose the establishment of a conservancy without a good deal of public vetting.” (Unfortunately, this oversight body was let to fall by the way side, hence the Parks Department’s ability to confer easily behind the scenes with outside private funders and attempt to put this together.)
To catch up on the issue at Washington Square, please read the following posts (or click on privatization and/or private conservancy under categories):
New York Post: Wash Park Goes ‘Square’: Private Conservancy April 28, 2013
My two Huffington Post pieces (thus far):
* Privatization of the Commons in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York (Part I) April 15, 2013