What the “founding members” of the Washington Sq Park Conservancy want you to know — CB2 Parks Committee and Parks Department to Discuss Conservancy Wed. June 5th

The meeting details are here as far as the Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting that will address the Washington Square Park Conservancy. Meeting will be held this Wednesday, June 5th:

Wednesday, June 5th, 6:30 P.M.- Lesbian and Gay Community Service Center, 208 W. 13th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Room 301

*Presentation by and discussion with the Parks Department regarding the formation of a Washington Square Park Conservancy.

On the same topic, what follows is a letter that appears in this week’s Villager. It’s a bit curious. For one, why does this group  — the private Conservancy “founding members” — only use The Villager as a mode of communication? Two, what they outline might bring up fewer concerns if the new WSP Administrator (who does work for the Parks Department) was not also “executive director” of the Conservancy. That brings up a bunch of questions. Oh, and three, transparency in advance would have gone a long way.

Letters, The Villager, May 29, 2013

Clarifications on new conservancy

To The Editor:
We are Village residents who have joined together to support the Parks Department in its maintenance of Washington Square Park. We’ve heard rumors circulating, so we’d like to clarify a few things.

Over the past months we met with Parks, community leaders and neighbors to discuss this idea, all of whom encouraged us to proceed.

Our group is called the Washington Square Park Conservancy, which may surprise some people. Frankly, it surprised us, too, but other appropriate names were taken. And “conservancy” is just a word that “friends” groups adopt to indicate they raise funds to support parks. We envision an organization with broad representation, reflecting longstanding Village ties and passion for the park.

We have no formal agreement with the city. Jurisdiction over all activities in Washington Square Park — including setting policies, permitting events and managing staff — will remain with Parks.

Our mission is simple: Keep Washington Square Park clean, safe and beautiful. Our goal is to provide volunteer support and funds for maintenance and plantings. City budgets wax and wane. A committed group of neighbors can help smooth out these cycles.

We have already provided funding for a summer playground associate to organize children’s activities. We’d like to raise funds for late-evening maintenance staff. Beyond that, we want to be responsive to our community’s priorities.

We look forward to working together to help keep Washington Square Park enjoyable for all.

Elizabeth Ely, Veronica Bulgari, Gwen Evans, Justine Leguizamo
Founding board members, Washington Square Park Conservancy

Thoughts?

If they have no “formal agreement” with the city then why was it kept (purposefully) so hush-hush? That phrase “clean, safe and beautiful” concerns me. They used that phrase in the New York Post article as well. They sound well meaning but as if they are representing some other park that is just not Washington Square Park. This is a park that has so much life within it and yet that is their prime focus. That brings along with it a very sanitized view that is not necessarily congruent with the park itself. Nothing against cleanliness of course! But …

More on Conservancy at WSP Blog here.