Public Officials to Parks Department: If Funds Were Going to Become an Issue at Washington Square Park, Maybe You Shouldn’t Have Moved the Fountain?

Updated 6/26 9:00 a.m.

There was a lot of information in my post the other day on questions raised by NYS Senator (and former Community Board 2 Chair) Brad Hoylman and NYS Assemblymember Deborah Glick with regards to a conservancy at Washington Square Park. So I wanted to come back to a choice paragraph within the joint letter they sent to Parks Commissioner Veronica White:

Although we appreciate the upgrades and renovations that the Department of Parks has made to Washington Square Park over the past few years, it seems short-sighted if these upgrades were made knowing there were not sufficient funds for the maintenance of the park going forward. For example, the fountain was moved at huge expense. We understand that capital and operating budgets are separate; however, maybe this alteration could have been forgone if Parks knew that after completion, there would not be money to continue the general upkeep of the park.

It’s funny (sort of) also because the Parks Department has always said it didn’t cost anything more to move the fountain, after 137 years in its previous location, so it would align with the Arch (whether it does, in fact, “align” is of dispute). This required dismantling and reassembling the bluestones of the fountain and moving them 22 feet east, relocating water lines all over the place, and digging another large ‘hole’ and whatever else that might entail. So clearly, those statements were not true. Surprise!

This was another key paragraph in the joint letter:

We are dismayed that the Department of Parks has been having private conversations about the formation of a Conservancy for Washington Square Park without public discussion or outreach. We have generally found Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro to be accessible and available to the community, which adds to our confusion and disappointment that these conversations were neither public, nor were the Community Board or elected officials informed they were going on. We hope that the Department of Parks will rectify this mistake by engaging in an open, public process which includes meetings with Community Board 2 and time for the public to discuss the appropriateness of such a plan, prior to any official action being taken.

Somehow the Community Board just did not get this last part.

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Previously at WSP Blog:

Among Other Things, Phase II Contractor Confirms WSP Fountain is Not Aligned with the Arch After All October 21, 2011 (This post has loads of info about the moving of the fountain.)

Wouldn’t it be ironic if – after everything – the Washington Square Park Fountain was Still Off-Center to the Arch? August 7, 2008

Questions from Elected Officials Regarding Private Conservancy at Washington Square: Why didn’t Community Board 2 Hold Off on Vote? June 21, 2013

Photo: J. Bary

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