Some Questions for the Private Conservancy at WSP from a Reader

by cathryn on June 4, 2013

From the In Box from “GV Reader” in response to yesterday’s post, “What the ‘founding members’ of the Washington Sq Park Conservancy Want You to Know”:

They have board members, so they must have formal by-laws. Someone should obtain these and compare them to the by-laws of the Central Park Conservancy and the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation.

Is this new accidental conservancy a 501-c(3) with the same mission statement scope as either of these other organizations, particularly wrt/ accepting management work for the park? If so, its not just a neighborhood group that’s just in the process of feeling its way forward, its a full blown, planned out in advance Conservancy.

Do the by-laws grant any favored position to businesses, as the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation does? Are there provisions which could grant NYU special control, such as guaranteed Board seats, by way of allowing ‘business members’ guaranteed participation provided they buy in?

Restricted donations are a serious issue. This allows donors to impose their will upon the actual physical nature of the park, and the activities going on within it. How will this conservancy permit such restrictions to be accepted or rejected *by the community* rather than just by the conservancy board and trustees?

The CPC and BPRC both face the challenge that selection of their Trustees/Board members is optimized to be effective in networking to raise money. This new conservancy needs to answer the questions of how such a leadership, which could become overwhelmingly dominated by monied and politically powerful interests ‘for the sake of fundraising’ (take a look at the CPC trustee list for example) would allow any meaningful community or non-monied presence inside the conservancy, specifically on trustee and board seats (not just at ‘advisory input’ meetings where the final thoughts of long discussion are sprung on the public after all discussion is effectively over). Would this conservancy allow at least some trustees and board members to be nominated from and elected by an at large community membership base of the conservancy, rather than the usual self-appointed or mayor-appointed mechanisms for allowing people to be part of the governance?

Finally, this conservancy, if it is positioning itself to take over the park management as the others have, needs to explain how it would write into its charter specifically worded provisions to protect the ‘non profit’ park uses against being crowded out by the ‘profit’ uses. Will fees be waived/minimized for users who are not running a profit making venture such as a music festival (BPRC has effectively blocked such users by quoting high use fees)? Will “take over this public space for private events” activities, allegedly in the name of fundraising, be confined to a limited absolute quantity of days per year and days of duration each, e.g. not be of long duration or almost total takeover, such as the Fashion Week activities at Bryant Park? And perhaps most importantly, will this conservancy specifically disavow in their charter any right of the conservancy to deny free speech gatherings such as protests because those activites somehow conflict with economic or ‘beautification/cleanliness’ etc. goals of the park management (‘no protesting the Iraq war on the great lawn, it would ruin it’).

– GV Reader

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Thanks GV Reader!

Reminder — Community Board 2 Parks Committee Meeting is tomorrow, 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.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Georgia June 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I look forward to your write up of the meeting and please keep letting us know how we can be involved. (I wrote to the new WSP Admin and my representative.)

Reply

cathryn June 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Thanks, Georgia. And thanks for following through.

My write-up of the meeting will likely appear tomorrow (6/11) and more info to come.

Cathryn

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