Don't give away the park

No Privatization of Washington Square Park | Community Board 2 Parks Committee Meeting Tonight Wed. March 5th

Don’t give away the park

Stop Privatization of Washington Square Park.

Tonight March 5th, 6: 30 p.m.

If you are outraged/concerned/alarmed over the takeover attempt by a private group at Washington Square Park, please come tonight Wednesday, March 5th, 6:30 p.m. to Community Board 2′s Parks Committee meeting. C.B.2 is attempting to downplay the information revealed via the FOIL documents WSP Blog obtained and documented here beginning in November 2013.

The Community Board is offering the WSP Conservancy the opportunity to present an “update” on their “activities” despite all the misinformation, misrepresentations and omissions the group put forth to the public in order to obtain C.B. 2 “approval.” This was all done with the collusion of the city’s Parks Department under Mayor Bloomberg.

This is a key moment: the park needs us all – and we need to be there to stop the privatization of this important public space. This group has shown themselves to be ethically challenged, among many other issues.

The WSP Conservancy’s founders lies to the public – lack of ethics, truth and transparency

Way too much has been discovered that points to the fact that the private Conservancy founders will say whatever they need (whatever it takes) to keep their private group with privileged insider status going. It is unknown if the conservancy founding members – Elizabeth “Betsey” Ely, Gwen Evans, Veronica Bulgari, Justine Leguizamo – will actually appear tonight or if they will send in Parks Department employee and their Executive Director, Sarah Neilson, to handle the meeting alone – so as to avoid further scrutiny (people also might feel sorry for Neilson on her own), thereby avoiding having to admit they lied to their neighbors.

What this private group in play means: NYU, licensing agreement, massive budget, large events and programming plans, inevitable corporate infiltration —  all information left out of public presentation and statements

The Washington Square Park Conservancy will be given undue influence and control at the park opening the way for private, affluent, corporate & real estate interests to gain sway — as well as NYU; the conservancy has already had numerous undisclosed meetings with the University/corporation about using its money (“$500,000 Gift to the Park”) for the park. Stipulations put forth by NYU Inc. are unknown. Why can’t this money just go into the Parks Department’s budget without strings?

The relocation and elimination of the “hot dog vendors” were just a symptom of the larger problem.

When the conservancy founders were asked if they had a budget they said “no,” yet a four year budget had been filed six weeks prior with New York State, they omitted mention of their intention to sign a “license agreement” with the city giving them a larger role maintaining and operating the park, they talked about a planning a book club while they had plans for film festivals and theatrical productions for “park patrons.” This is just some of it.

New York City Parks Department under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and its role in the deception

Parks Department official Bill Castro (Manhattan Park Commissioner) played a key role here in deceiving the public and needs to be held accountable for these Bloomberg-era tactics.

Community Board 2’s wishy washy response to the information revealed by this blog through FOIL (freedom of information letter)

Community Board 2 needs to start the process overWhen Manhattan Community Board 1 learned that the Howard Hughes Corporation had deceived the public on issues related to the South Street Seaport, they called a Town Hall meeting. That would be appropriate, not this wishy washy response by the Board enabling the conservancy’s deception.

How can there be any degree of trust of this private group after the discovery of these intentional misrepresentations and omissions to the public?

Community & park users have previously voted down a private conservancy at Washington Square for 12 years, if not more

The community around Washington Square Park has voted down a private conservancy at the park for years – the only way this got pushed through was by Parks Department and Community Board 2 collusion to cover up “murky areas that might not satisfy public inquiry” as Conservancy chairman Betsey Ely wrote in an email. Former Council Member Alan Gerson told me, that, in discussing a possible fund-raising entity for the park with the Parks Department during the redesign conversations, it was always clear that any process would be “open and transparent.” This has been neither.

Time to start anew! If funds are needed, let’s create an alternative, transparent model for this park.

Meeting Information:

Community Board 2 Parks Committee Meeting with Washington Square Park Conservancy
Wednesday, March 5th, 6:30 p.m.

Judson Church Assembly Hall

239 Thompson Street between Washington Square South and West 3rd Streets (across from the park)

Trains: A, B, C, D, E, F, M to West 4th Street-Washington Square

For more information on the issue, visit these two pages, among others at this blog (see category ‘private conservancy’) on right sidebar:

Washington Square Park Conservancy Timeline The Road to Community Board 2′s “Approval”

Documentation: What was Known Yet Concealed in Public Statements by Washington Square Park Private Conservancy Founders

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