Updated — Responding to public pressure, the New York City Parks Department confirmed Tuesday that the “hot dog vendors” at Washington Square Park will return in the spring. The vendors’ contract was allowed to run out as of yesterday, December 31st, 2013, as first reported here at Washington Square Park Blog and their fate was unclear. It was the decision of the recently installed private conservancy at Washington Square Park which first relocated the “hot dog guy … away from the Arch view corridor” and next determined it wanted “new and different vendors” at the Park which led to the banning of the vendors entirely. (These type decisions being way outside the stated purview of the private entity, a self-proclaimed “little friends group.”)
Since the news first broke here and the story was then followed up on at The New York Post last month, Washington Square Park private conservancy founders have attempted to distance themselves from this story. However, it is clear what transpired: these decisions only occurred after the conservancy was put into play as the four founders asked that this be “followed up on” back in March. One month later, their wish was granted! (Conservancy founder Veronica Bulgari told The Post they felt the carts were “unsightly.”) The person the private conservancy “suggested” this to was Sarah Neilson, Washington Square Park administrator and a Parks Department employee, and also their private organization’s “executive director,” pointing to yet another reason the combination of these two roles is majorly problematic. Much of what is discussed will remain out of public view; it only came to light due to documents Washington Square Park Blog obtained.
Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson told Washington Square Park Blog yesterday: “We evaluated the feedback that was received, and alerted Community Board 2 of our intent to put out a new Request for Bids later this winter. Our hope is to have two hot dog vendors in place by late spring.”
So the “hot dog vendors” – who actually sell many other things (although of course adding a few healthier options would be welcome too!) – will return in the spring. Whether the same vendors who held the spot previously will return is unclear.
Public pressure can work! Now, let’s get the private conservancy out of the picture and separated from the city’s public park administrator role.
A note: Why Manhattan’s Community Board 2 did not alert the community to this information is anyone’s guess. No one from the Community Board came out in support of the hot dog vendors at the rally to “Keep ‘Hot Dog’ Carts IN, Private Influence OUT” on a recent Sunday morning at Washington Square Park. (What is up with Community Board 2? Whose side are they on?)
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:
All Photos: Cathryn except Bottom Photo: Stacy Walsh Rosenstock via Metro NY