Updated 3:32 p.m.
The Parks Department has delayed repair of Washington Square Park perimeter sidewalks yet again. Curiously allotted to the very very last phase of the park redesign (remember the park was redesigned?), logic would make you think that it would be timed to begin – at least – the minute Phase III was completed in April 2014. This has not been the case.
Phase III, the alleged final phase of the contentious redesign of Washington Square Park, initially included the sidewalk repair. Elements of this phase opened in stages – large dog run, followed by the Mounds, then admin/bathroom(/NYPD) building. The repair of the sidewalks kept getting moved farther and farther into the future despite their terrible and unsafe condition.
The redesign of Washington Square Park began in late December 2007. It was scheduled at the onset to be completed in its totality in three years; it ended up taking six and a half years, more than double the initial time at more than double the initial cost of $16 million; currently at somewhere between $30 – $35 million, possibly more.
The sidewalks were at one point part of Phase III (and perhaps in another earlier phase at some point) but were ultimately moved out of that phase entirely and allotted to a new, final stage – presumably set to be completed some day.
Start dates given over the last two – three years were at varying points: By Summer 2013, then Set to begin Summer 2014, then Spring 2015, then latest was early Summer 2015. Their condition continues to deteriorate. Technically, they are overdue by – at the least – four years but no matter the number of years, they should be fixed.
Sidewalks and Washington Square Park “water main project” to be discussed at Community Board Public Hearing Wednesday night 8/12
At a Community Board meeting in February, Washington Square Park Administrator Sarah Neilson declared that the revised start date would be “early summer . They have 365 days to do the work.” The implication being that it would just begin – not that it would be discussed at a whole other meeting six months later – and two months past the proposed start date. (!)
Too many times, the Parks Department has been evasive and misrepresented information to the community (here is one particularly egregious one). In this case, I do not understand why this is even coming back for discussion – unless they are trying to privatize the sidewalks and put ads on them. Otherwise, just start, already!
There will be two topics related to Washington Square Park at Wednesday’s meetings and they are actually Public Hearings. I am not sure how you can have a Public Hearing on something no one has reviewed before hand but this is how the Community Board does it. They are also set to discuss a “Washington Square Park water main project” – have no idea what that entails. It must be serious because August is a month when everyone usually lays low. They had to do extensive work with the pipes under the fountain when they relocated it (22 feet east to “align” with the Arch).
Meeting details at end – please attend!
In case you were wondering… “What is up with those broken down sidewalks that line Washington Square Park? Weren’t they supposed to – at least – be completed by this summer 2013?”
Well, the answer is YES. However, you’ll have to wait another year – work is now not scheduled to begin until next Summer 2014, six and a half years after redesign construction began in late 2007. This information was revealed at Community Board 2′s Parks Committee meeting earlier this month by Park Administrator Sarah Neilson. It’s a bit strange how the things that were most important to park users (the sidewalks and the bathrooms — more on those next) are all being done last. Watch your step.
Posted here after a Community Board meeting in November 2014 when the sidewalks came up again:
Sarah Neilson said: “The question on the table is whether to start in winter [2014-2015] or [they may] wait until spring .”
The Parks Department’s Manhattan Chief of Staff Steve Simon was in attendance at the Community Board meeting and stated that part of the reason for the delay is that the sidewalk construction needed to go out to bid (an RFP – request for proposals from contractors).
When asked if every sidewalk goes out to bid, Simon stated: “This is a complete reconstruction of the sidewalk [around the entire park]. It is an outside contractor. Maybe you can call it Phase IV.”
Simon quoted the cost of the sidewalk work as ringing up somewhere in the range of $1.5 – $1.7 million. Washington Square Park’s redesign to date has cost over $32 million (note: it was budgeted at the onset for $16 million).
Since it has been known for awhile that the sidewalks were in this sad state, it is unclear why this could not have moved along a little more swiftly or placed in an earlier phase of the work.
Comm. Board 2 Meeting Wednesday August 12th addressing Washington Square Park:
Parks Committee Meets Wednesday, August 12, 6:30 PM- NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 208
NOTE: These are PUBLIC HEARINGS, by the way:
*Presentation by the Parks Department regarding the Washington Square Park perimeter sidewalk reconstruction project.
*Presentation by the Department of Design and Construction regarding the Washington Square Park watermain project.
* * *
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:
Washington Square Park Sidewalk Fix News February 12, 2015