Ongoing Commercialization and Lack of Transparency Continue at Bryant Park; Community Board has “serious concerns”

Ongoing Commercialization and Lack of Transparency Continue at Bryant Park; Community Board has “serious concerns”

This is what the city’s Parks Department and Community Board 2 are forcing on wonderful Washington Square Park – the threat of this:

Google’s “Winter Wonderland” at Bryant Park

From DNAinfo, Google Forced Bryant Park Corp to Hide Event Plans from Public, Critics Say | Community Board Seeks Changes to Parks Events:

Before unveiling its weekend “Winter Wonderlab” event in Bryant Park to promote its new tablet and streaming-video service, Google required organizers and the Bryant Park Corporation to sign non-disclosure agreements, according to officials from CB5.

That stopped them from discussing any details of the planned event.

[Community] Board members say they have “serious concerns” about what they describe as an ongoing lack of transparency surrounding commercial events in public parks and plazas — noting that Google’s efforts to cloak the details of the Wonderlab event is just the latest in a line of corporate non-disclosure agreements.

“The increasing frequency of non-disclosure agreements as a reason not to share with the public any salient event details is absolutely unacceptable, and must not continue to be the way of doing business in New York City parks,” [Community Board 5 Chair Vikki] Barbero and [Parks Committee Chair Clayton] Smith wrote. …

Board members pointed to three denials CB5 issued over the past two months to event organizers in Bryant Park. None of the three applications allowed for “sufficient public review of the use of public space” because the requests either reached the board too late or offered too few details, Barbero and Smith wrote.

Despite these “three denials,” the events, presented to the Community Board at the last minute, went on as planned.

In addition:

“It is time for the rectification of the event permitting process,” Smith and Barbero wrote. “For meaningful public review and input as to the details of the event (duration, footprint, layout, set-up and breakdown, amplified sound, signage, accessibility, and public benefit), we insist that the events come for community board review in the earliest stages of planning — not days before the events occur.”

In typical snarky fashion (read between the lines), the Bryant Park Corporation told DNAinfo via a statement that “it looks forward to working with Community Board 5 to address any concerns its members might have with matters pertaining to this issue, as it has done with a myriad of other issues over the past three decades.”

Are you paying attention, Community Board 2?

(Part III of Private Conservancy Watch post up next! — Friday)

Photo: DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis