Alan Gerson — the NY City Council representative for District 1 in Manhattan, which covers Washington Square Park — was missing in action Wednesday March 19th at the City Council hearing on the Parks Department and its Preliminary Budget. Alan Gerson is on the Parks & Recreation Committee of the City Council and all of his colleagues on the committee showed except for Gerson and Letitia James (Brooklyn).
Since Washington Square Park is a ‘hot topic’ for his constituents, we find it a bit odd that he would miss this presentation by the Parks Department and a chance to ask them some questions. (Although Parks & Recreation Committee chair Helen Foster – Bronx – noted that “if Alan had shown up,” his topic of focus was to ask Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe about “the bathhouses.”) Since the budget for the City’s redesign of Washington Square Park’s Phase I alone has more than doubled from $6 million to $13 million (the project was initially budgeted at $16 million TOTAL), it seemed like a perfect opportunity for Council Member Gerson to quiz Commissioner Benepe on this topic.
Council Member Gerson also failed to show up for an important Community Board 2 meeting in late December at which the Washington Square Park “renovation” was discussed and in which he was supposed to report back on whether he was releasing key City Council funds – under his discretion – for the Washington Square Park project to the Parks Department. (He sent his aide who read a statement which did not answer this question. His office now says that they told the community at that time that the funds were being released).