William Castro, Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner, has a featured “Talking Point” in this week’s Villager proclaiming why a Conservancy will keep Washington Square Park “looking good.” There is no mention of problems with funding for the park or why it suddenly became necessary, despite the fact that the park has managed well enough run by the city’s Parks Department and it was always clear that the community did not want such a private entity overseeing ‘their’ park. This is why the City worked on this behind closed doors.
With the publication of this “Talking Point,” on April 25th, I feel The Villager — which covered copious numbers of meetings related to Washington Square Park’s redesign probably back to 2004 (?) — owed the community a bit more. I’d heard talk of a possible Conservancy floating around for a little while now; it’s possible that news did not reach The Villager … it seems doubtful but it’s possible, perhaps they are not as ‘plugged in’ as one might think.
Bill Castro’s “Talking Point” (and the mention in their ‘gossip’ column) in this week’s paper follows my breaking the news first (with no mention of that, but fine). So perhaps, so they had something that seemed unique to them, they gave the floor to the Manhattan Parks Commissioner. I don’t know… that seems quite dubious to me. If a story had appeared first and then that “Talking Point” appeared, that would have been … different, more credible.
One note from Castro’s “Talking Point,” he writes: “A group of citizens who live and work in the community is seeking to raise funds for the park and engage neighbors to help the Parks Department care for the park’s lawns, plants and playgrounds, and to create programming. We look forward to working with the new group to encourage community involvement and volunteering.”
For one, that group is “four women,” four people in a huge community vocal about the fact that they largely did not want a Conservancy. There is no reason why these four women couldn’t ‘just’ raise funds — if that is the issue — and let the new Parks Administrator, Sarah Neilson, maintain and run the park… IF the issue is funds. I would argue the issue is having all parks privatized in New York City, and that’s just NOT okay.
See my second piece at the Huffington Post, “Privatization of the Commons in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York — Part II: Who Has Control?”