Washington Square Park to be Discussed First Meeting Jan. 2018 Comm Bd 2 Parks Committee

Washington Square Park to be Discussed First Meeting Jan. 2018 Comm Bd 2 Parks Committee


In June of 2017, Washington Square Park was on the Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting agenda after a long absence. Also on the agenda was the (controversial) private Washington Square Park Conservancy.

At that meeting, the boundaries crossed as then-newly hired New York City Parks Department employee and WSP Administrator George Vellonakis was not quite up to speed and so Washington Square Park Conservancy staffer Sheryl Woodruff answered public questions about the park, instead of the publicly-paid park administrator. It was confusing.

The community has long fought to keep the reins of this very special Greenwich Village park in the hands of the city Parks Department vs. a private entity as the responsibility has been handed over to private entities at too many of our public parks, leading to many problems.

After WSP Blog commented to Community Board 2’s Parks Committee some confusion for the public in the way things transpired at that June meeting, the Community Board was responsive, and is attempting to make a clear delineation of the two entities at the upcoming meeting.

(To make things even more confusing, Vellonakis, the redesigner of Washington Square Park – 2007-2014+ – is also “Executive Director” of Washington Square Park conservancy. This clearly should be considered a conflict-of-interest. Search ‘privatization’ at this blog for more information.)

At the meeting Wednesday, January 3rd, Washington Square Park will be discussed, and also Washington Square Park Conservancy will talk about what that private organization – which, again, does not run or manage the park – is up to* and will hopefully involve the public in these discussions.

Meeting details:

COMMUNITY BOARD 2 PARKS/ WATERFRONT COMMITTEE

Wed., January 3rd @ 6:30 PM – NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, off Washington Square East, Room 401

1. Update on previous year activities and upcoming year plans by [New York City Parks Department] Washington Square Park Administrator, George Vellonakis

2 Bi-annual update on previous year and upcoming activities by representatives of Washington Square Park Conservancy.*

* for more on this private organization, Washington Square Park conservancy, visit Private Conservancy Watch.

“Public-Private” Partnerships at NYC Parks Leave “Public” Behind While Lack of Media Scrutiny Continues

“Public-Private” Partnerships at NYC Parks Leave “Public” Behind While Lack of Media Scrutiny Continues
Brooklyn Bridge View
Brooklyn Bridge View

Updated 10/30, 11:37 a.m. – In NYC, there once was more significant coverage of “public-private” “partnerships” – and the issues that come along with them. 2013 seemed to be the height of media attention. Since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the public-private seems to be receiving far less scrutiny and … it’s all good, if we believe the press and elected officials.

Loss of Key Reporters Covering Private – Public Conflicts

Key reporters who had written excellent pieces on this topic are sadly no longer doing so – such as Patrick Arden who was at Metro and Next American City, Michael Powell at The New York Times who was moved to the Sports section !! – such a loss for us, a gain for sports, where writers are often more strategic and outline better, and Kate Briquelet at The New York Post; she recently moved to Daily Beast. (She covered the arrival and secrecy around the creation of the private Washington Square Park conservancy. Briquelet also covered the “hot dog” vendor ouster hoopla. Links to be added.) The writer who covers parks the most in New York City right now, Lisa Foderaro at The Times, seems to not weigh in or or consider that there is debate around private entities and public parks.

One park and its affiliated private entity has received some in-depth scrutiny in the last year: Brooklyn Bridge Park and its Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

I’ve Got a (Brooklyn) Bridge to Sell You?

The latest from DNAinfo, Brooklyn Bridge Pierhouse Violates City-Protected Scenic View, Survey Finds:

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s embattled Pierhouse intrudes upon a city-protected scenic view from the Promenade by nearly 20 feet, according to a new surveyor’s report commissioned by opponents of the project.

The Pierhouse, a luxury hotel and condo building constructed on public land along the East River, rises too high above the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, breaking the city’s zoning rules by encroaching on the scenic view, the report, commissioned by Save the View Now, found. …

The six-story Pierhouse will include 108 condos priced between $1.1 million and $11.1 million as well as a hotel, according to state documents. …

“This is the latest example of how the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp (BBPC), a not-for-profit outside of normal New York City government and controlled by the mayor, has failed to provide any meaningful oversight to the construction by Toll Brothers and Starwood on Pier 1,” the group wrote in a press release.

Read more…