In The News: NYC Parks Department – Comptroller’s Audit Shows Pattern of Construction Delays & Ballooning Costs, Union Square Restaurant Halted by Judge

Union Square Pavilion While Under Construction

Washington Square Park has been all too familiar with construction delays and escalation of costs over the last five years of redesign construction. Well, surprise, this problem is not limited to WSP, as NYC Comptroller John C. Liu reports via an audit of the city’s Parks Department released Friday:

The Parks Department is not carrying out and overseeing capital construction projects in a timely and cost effective manner according to an audit released today by City Comptroller John C. Liu.

The audit found the Parks Department’s failure to monitor its capital construction projects in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, resulted in 47 percent of projects not being completed within their originally scheduled timeframes. Some projects were years behind schedule and 10% of them went significantly over budget.

Additionally, the Department did not follow procedures to seek to recoup from consultants the cost of change orders that were necessitated by design errors or design omissions.

As a result, the Department expended almost $13 million in project costs—$2.2 million in additional staffing costs for construction management and almost $11 million in additional construction costs, which included $4 million in change orders that were necessitated by design errors or design omissions.

“New Yorkers and visitors alike love our parks. Repairs and upgrades must be better managed not only to reduce wasteful spending, but also to minimize the duration of park closures,” Comptroller Liu said in a press release. “The Parks Department can do better.”

— Via A Walk in the Park Blog

At Washington Square:  Phase II at Washington Square was — even with parts of it moved into Phase III (link to be added) — about 8 months behind schedule when Phase II-A finally opened in June of 2011. Phase II-B, Chess Plaza, the final ‘piece’ (of Phase II), took another nine months and finally opened in March of 2012. So, in all, it was over a year behind schedule. (There were contractor disputes and all. That’s all in the archives.)

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Amazing news about nearby UNION SQUARE:

“Judge Blocks Restaurant Plan for Union Square Park,” from The New York Times:

What is the purpose of a park? To eat? To eat $18 eggs and potatoes? Or is it to play? To leave space open for the public to gather in protest or celebration?

When it comes to one corner of Union Square Park, that question has led to years of court battles, protests and heated debate as community activists have fought to stop the city from putting a high-end restaurant there.

This week, the opponents of a plan to put a restaurant in the pavilion on the northern end of the park scored a victory, with a judge issuing a temporary injunction against the Union Square Partnership and the Bloomberg administration.

The city said it would appeal.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron of New York State Supreme Court, ruled Tuesday that the city could not go through with its plan without approval from the State Legislature.


Judge Engoron’s decision looked to both the history of the park and its more recent uses and he found little merit in the city’s claim that the restaurant would add value for most New Yorkers.

He wrote, “All things considered, including the small size and large crowds of Union Square Park; the commercial character of the encircling neighborhood; the plethora of nearby restaurants of every description just beyond its perimeter; the prominence and importance of the pavilion; the restricted views therein; and the operating hours and prices to be charged by the proposed restaurant, and based on the record at this stage of the litigation, this court finds that plaintiffs likely will succeed in proving that the proposed restaurant would be ‘in’ the park, but not ‘of’ the park, would be a ‘park restaurant’ in name only, and would not serve a ‘park purpose.’

Well, that’s refreshing.

Lots about this ‘battle’ in the archives! Look for Union Square or Save Union Square.


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