Washington Square Park Task Force to Meet ! Wednesday, Dec. 3rd

WSP Blog readers know that I’ve had some critique of the Washington Square Park Task Force, a body presently under the aegis of Community Board 2 which is also comprised of members of the public, the Community Board, and representatives of elected officials.

The elected officials represented on the Task Force are: Congressman Jerold Nadler, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Council Member Alan Gerson, State Senator Tom Duane, and Assembly Member Deborah Glick.

The WSP Task Force is supposed to be the body that follows up on the (admittedly tepid) Gerson-Quinn Agreement and the “stipulations” put forth in that letter dated October 6, 2005 from Gerson and Quinn to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe which mildly attempts to monitor some aspects of the Washingon Square Park redesign allegedly in the interest of the community.

The WSPTF meets infrequently. Understandably, to some degree, no one feels they have true license to monitor the NYC Parks Department since it is almost a rogue operation at this point. However, there are some great people on the Task Force who would like to push the envelope a bit and defend this dynamic, historic public space and this should only be encouraged.

An example of the NYC Parks Department’s non-compliance with the “Gerson-Quinn Agreement:” the 4 foot fence currently being installed with “decorative spears” on top does not comply with the “Agreement” and yet this has apparently not been addressed by anyone, either on Speaker Quinn’s or Council Member Gerson’s staff or by anyone on the Washington Square Park Task Force.

Nonetheless, the fact that they are meeting is a good thing.

Here are the details:

Washington Sq Park Task Force and Community Bd. 2 Parks Committee Meeting

Wednesday, December 3rd, 6:30 p.m.

Our Lady of Pompeii Church (Father Demo Hall). 25 Carmine Street @ Bleecker Street, Manhattan

* To read the purported goals of the WSP Task Force, go here.

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7 thoughts on “Washington Square Park Task Force to Meet ! Wednesday, Dec. 3rd”

  1. Notice you edited out both my previous comments, which were constructive, but differed from the basic direction of your blog, offered no profanity or name calling, and simply suggested that perhaps getting drug dealers permanently out of WSP might be a better first priority as opposed to worrying about the exact height of the fence around the park’s circumference . Nice to see that YOU are so well balanced in YOUR reportage and on YOUR blog. No we know EXACTLY where YOU stand with regards to constructive dialogue on your very own blog – evidently, either we’re with you, or we’re not allowed to actually disagree with you and present alternatives. I was willing to give you a fair shot in terms of hearing your point of view, but not anymore. Someone who can’t even tolerate modest differences of opinion is just a fanatic.

  2. Hi MJ,

    I think you misunderstood. I am more than open to posting comments of people who disagree with me or have other viewpoints. There are certainly comments from ALL perspectives posted within the site.

    Regarding the drug dealers, there are police to deal with the “drug dealers” in Washington Square Park. My focus is the dramatic changes going on across New York City and the role of public space within that. I think deflecting that role (getting rid of the drug dealers…) onto me or criticizing me for not taking on that role is missing the point.

    Changing dramatically this dynamic public space – which, yes, the fence is a big part of – is a major issue. I think it’s indicative of a pattern of governmental abuse by the Bloomberg Administration, much of which flies under the radar at most times. The New York Times article omitted much of the lies and non-transparent actions by the Parks Department and perpetual ignoring of the wishes of the community.

    Again I’m open to hearing other opinions and obviously we all have different areas that we think are important. But someone technically is ‘dealing’ (no pun intended) with the drug dealers. However, in the ‘role’ of defending public space, making sure the government is held accountable, helping facilitate community dialogue, and keeping track of the public process… that ‘role’ seems to be missing a few players. I try to contribute what I can in that respect.

    I appreciate your stopping by the blog and hope that you will continue to.


    WSP Blog.

  3. Interesting that you didn’t at all address MJ’s initial complaint, which was that you edited out two of his comments that disagreed with you. Are you planning on completely ignoring that?

  4. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I wouldn’t want to leave that wrong impression.

    I did NOT “edit” anything out of MJ’s comments and I would not do that.

    What he meant was that I did not approve his comments quickly and he did not think I was going to.

    WSP Blog.

  5. Cat:

    I appreciate your taking the time to post my comments, and respond with thoughtful critique. Thank you!

    As to your assertion that there are already ‘police officers to deal with the drug problem,’ one could offer the same commentary that there are other city agencies to deal with differing aspects of the WSP redesign, and yet you have spent significant time addressing the powers responsible for the redseign issues. My point is that whether a fountain gets moved a few feet, or a (I think nice looking) fence is put up around the perimeter of WSP is a much lower priority in my opinion than having drug dealers solicit junior high- and high school age kids with coke and weed.

    I happen to believe that in the end, the ‘dynamic’ aspect of WSP will not in any be affected by any of the current redesign proposals, and will most likely be enhanced when all is said and done. And I also believe that you need to be VERY CAREFUL when you use terminology describing the “…perpetual ignoing of the wishes of the community…” – maybe YOUR wishes are perpetually ignored, and/or those of YOUR constituants, but you simply DO NOT speak for ‘the entire community’ by a long shot, and suggesting that you do is not only misleading, but an absolute and total falsehood. You should be perfectly aware of this by reading responses on this site alone, as well as othyers, that many community locals are quite happy with the changes in effect, and respectfully but completely disagree with you. Quite simply, you do not represent ‘the community.’

  6. Hi MJ,

    Thanks for returning and for your comments.

    There are large changes beyond the moving of the fountain and the fence which I outline in the “nyc’s redesign plans” section above. It also goes beyond the changes to the process of HOW much of the changes were pushed through and lies and half truths. These things ARE important in a democracy, in how a city agency operates, and in how a community is engaged with their ideas and supplied with appropriate information.

    The thing is… people wanted the park renovated. Yes, we all agree. I haven’t met anyone or heard a viewpoint that the park should have been left with cracked pathways and neglected bathrooms, a sorry looking lawn, etc. The park needed to be fixed up. In what I’ve seen however, there are few people who are attached to “George Vellonakis’s design.” They will say — oh it’s nice to have fresh flowers, and it’s nice to have green lawn, and it’s nice to have the pathways improved. That all could have been done five years ago. That is not tied to THIS design which does not – if you attended or went back to review community board and other meetings – reflect the wishes of the majority of the community.

    There’s two different issues. Whether the park needed to be fixed and renovated … yes! Whether it needed this fixing and this “redesign”… that’s a broader question that I don’t believe there are many people who answer ‘yes’ to.

    There is a part of me that agrees with your point somewhat and thinks people will claim the park and hopefully it will retain its dynamic aspects. But there will be a change, a formality, an environment less conducive to the music/art/free speech/political/personal interactions we have associated with Washington Square Park. That aspect is a concern and remains to be seen.

    There are so many ways this park could have been enhanced … the design that’s being put in place is not that imaginative and this park deserved better. Maybe if they make some changes in the design going forward, it can be made better.

    Thanks for stopping by and giving your thoughts.

    WSP Blog.


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