Tonight, Community Board 2’s Parks Committee will address Washington Square Park. This will include a discussion on the use of New York University’s long-awaited and recently received $500,000 “donation” to the park.
The money is 1/2 of an original $1 Million pledge that NYU committed to the park’s contentious $40 Million redesign prior to its start in late 2007. The reconstruction of the park was budgeted and approved at $16 Million; it has ended up costing more than double the projected amount.
It was assumed this $1 Million had been received in one lump sum prior or during the seven+ year-long project.
In 2014, the disclosure that there was a still-to-come $500,000 from NYU became known at a Community Board meeting, due to the fact that a $500,000 “gift to the park” was mentioned in emails secured by WSP Blog between the Parks Department and the Washington Sq Park Conservancy via FOIL (Freedom of Information Letter).
The Parks Department revealed at this time that $500,000 had gone towards the redesign construction; the other half, they stated, had not been received and would go towards park “maintenance.”
(As I wrote in this post, when the Parks Department was pushing for a conservancy, Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro — whose publicly-paid responsibility was to ensure upkeep of the park — propagandized that the space would deteriorate under his oversight. He called for a private entity to take over responsibility that he was being paid for, without relinquishing any of his salary. Noting “city budgets that wax and wane,” he brought up Central Park in the 1970s; no mention of this $500,000 to-come was ever made.)
NYU spokesperson: “NYU is still negotiating terms with the Department of Parks and Recreation.”
In November of 2014, WSP Blog reached out to NYU Director of Public Affairs Phillip Lentz about the status of the money from the University’s perspective.
Lentz replied, “NYU is still negotiating terms with the Department of Parks and Recreation.”
When asked for specifics on the terms, Lentz stated: “I think that’s all we are able to say about the discussions at this time.”
According to the city Parks Department press office, the $500,000 from NYU was transferred to the city in late November 2015 and is being held in an account by the City Parks Foundation. A spokesperson said that NYC Parks would decide how this money was used.
CB 2 Member: “I am concerned about NYU. When you give money, you have control.”
At a meeting addressing a conservancy in 2013, a Community Board 2 member said: “I am concerned about NYU. When you give money, you have control. What about NYU?”
Tonight, the Parks Department is coming before Community Board 2 to discuss the “plan” for the NYU $500,000.
What stipulations, if any, did NYU place on how this money is used?
COMMUNITY BOARD 2 PARKS/WATERFRONT MEETING
Wednesday, February 3rd 6:30 PM
Little Red School House, 272 Sixth Avenue at Bleecker Street, Auditorium
Trains: A, B, C, D, E, F, M trains to W. 4th Street – Washington Square
Presentation by and Working Session with Parks without Borders.
Update on Washington Square Park activities.
Discussion of donation to Washington Square Park by NYU; plan for use of the funds.