Free Conversation group moves around the city with these sofas! On Saturday, they were south of the Arch. Their goal: “To get people to drop their facades, connect with real people in real life, build a community and have a ton of fun doing it.”
There was a group with an amp that had a permit (two people I know asked – the permit was for at least three hours) by Garibaldi Statue – an underutilized location! It was sounding like it might be a bit loud as they tested out sound before it officially got started (look at those speakers!). I didn’t stay around to witness it but there were kids just ready to bust out and move on the sidelines.
One topic at the recent Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting (Part III coming… I have a whole lot of updates!) was the PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) at the park. The number of PEP officers around the city had been cut over the Bloomberg years, but, after an audit by firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Parks Department under current Commissioner Veronica White agreed to nearly double the number of park officers. At Washington Square, there are now two PEP officers at the park during the days. This group walking around at times numbered at least seven, but, since they we all walking together (typically they go out in pairs), I imagine some were in training.
* “It’s My Park Day” is organized by the Parks Department every year. I am not certain when this effort began — its goal is to enlist neighbors to volunteer in their parks; it happens twice a year. It took place at the park this past Saturday, October 19th. It goes without saying that the Parks Department should have an adequate budget and pay their workers to handle maintaining city parks while at the same time having people care about parks is a good thing. The effort goes on across the five boroughs and some parks seem to involve corporate sponsors. Thankfully, this was not the case at Washington Square (and has not been the case in previous years, to my knowledge).
The founding members of the Washington Square Park Conservancy — who have asserted that the organization’s function is to “organize volunteers, plant flowers and raise funds” but “not to” – in any way – “run the park” — seemed to be making this date one of their ‘own’ initiatives. However, it seems as if the only place they took to promote people getting involved (other than their web site) was in the controversial Villager article on the group a couple weeks back. (More on that later …) So, either they are overestimating the reach of The Villager or under-estimating the idea of flyers and networking. Of three people I ran into on Saturday – who are in the park almost every day – not one of them was aware that it was “It’s My Park Day.” And when I walked by the group that had been volunteering, there was no obvious delineation that this was what was happening – of course, I could have missed it. I walked by during the last 1/2 hour of the 2 hours dedicated to “It’s My Park.” Still, it seems it could use some fine tuning — if it is indeed an important effort for the park.