Will 1/3 of Washington Sq Park’s Already Delayed Phase II Construction – including Dog Runs, Mounds, Chess Area – Be Moved into Phase III? Word on the Street Says Yes.

You might recall, in my September 7th post flagging some of the problems being currently encountered in the construction of Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II, that I questioned whether the relocation of the Dog Runs might be moving into Phase III.

The small & large dog runs’ new and pretty much unwelcome locations will be at Washington Square South bordering the park’s administrative offices and bathrooms (scheduled for Phase III, tho’ the community long requested this work be completed first).

Well, now, it appears not just the dog run is being moved into Phase III. Sources tell me that much of the southwestern side – which includes the Mounds & Adjacent Play Area, the Large Dog Run and the Chess area – will be moving into the final (as of now) phase of the historic park’s controversial redesign.

It hasn’t officially been announced yet but it’s pretty much a fait accompli.

It’s even more interesting because I wrote to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in September 2009 suggesting this very thing. It seemed fairly obvious to many, not just me. If it had been approached this way at the onset, it would have saved time, money, and a large section that went under wraps could have remained, well, unwrapped while the eastern section was being reconstructed.

My letter of September 25th, 2009:

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

I have been wondering why Washington Square Park Phase II plans call for closing off such large sections of the park – NorthEast, SouthEast and SouthWest Quadrants – all at once and why this work could not be completed in at least two stages so that the public would not be so limited in access to the park while under construction.  This is a large amount of space to place off limits all at once.

Has there been any consideration to breaking it up into two parts? (Perhaps chess area and mounds being completed at a later date, for example.)

Parks Commissioner Benepe wrote back to me on October 29th, 2009:

Dear Ms. Swan:

Thank you for your email regarding Phase II of the renovation of Washington Square Park.

We realize it is an inconvenience for park users to have such a large part of the park closed temporarily. However, dividing the project into additional phases and extending the timeline would raise the cost of completing the project considerably. The current plan allows us to finish the project as quickly as possible while still keeping some portion of the park open to the public at all times.

Hmmm… Guess that didn’t quite work out as planned.

Phase II was supposed to be completed now. It will not be completed until late this year/early 2011. The cost is already at $9 million incomplete (expanded greatly past the original budgeted amount of $6 million) and counting.

The entire project at the onset was approved by the NY City Council at a cost of $16 million for all three phases. Phase I alone cost that. Expect that $16 million figure to – at least – double by the construction’s completion.

Phase III is scheduled to begin at some point in 2011.

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