Community Board 2 Resolution Re: Washington Square Park Conservancy

Community Board 2’s Resolution of June 20, 2013:

Community Board 2 Resolution Re: Washington Square Park Conservancy :

WHEREAS

1. Betsey Ely, Gwen Evans, Veronica Bulgari and Justine Leguizamo came before CB2”s Park Committee to describe their plan to create a private 501C-3 charitable organization named the Washington Square Park Conservancy (“WSPC”), whose mission will be to raise funds and organize volunteers in support of Washington Square Park; and have sought public comment and Community Board approval for their plan; and

2. Commissioner William Castro of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) confirmed that WSPC will have no formal agreement with Parks – neither License Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding, nor Contract – now or in the future, and that Parks will maintain its authority and operational jurisdiction over WSP; and

3. Funds raised by WSPC will be allocated for Washington Square Park expenses in a separate budget line and will not be used for Parks’ overall budget or mixed with the City general fund, and the City commitment to funding park operations will not be reduced as a result of the availability of private funds; and

4. For the sake of administrative efficiency, the Washington Square Park Administrator – a City employee whose salary is paid entirely by Parks now and in the future  – will also serve as Executive Director of WSPC, but in all instances and at all times will be an employee of Parks and will represent foremost the interests and policies of Parks; and

5. Parks will maintain its authority in permitting activities in the park and will not generate revenue for WSPC through concessions, promotions, advertising, or corporate branding or activities that limit public access or commercialize the park; and

6. WSPC will not have a role in policy, planning or event creation, and all policies concerning the park will continue to be set by Parks with input from CB2; and

7. Public comment included concerns regarding process, transparency, control, and accountability, where noted and thusly addressed in this resolution; and

8. Additionally, public comment included concerns that, without private support, Parks would be unable to provide sufficient maintenance of the recent $40 million renovation to the park, especially to trees, shrubs, lawns, and gardens*; and

9. Washington Square Park serves as our community’s “flagship” park and also as an important regional attraction, world-renowned landmark, and historic point of interest attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually; and

10. The special character of the park and its intense use creates a need for enhanced maintenance and security beyond what can be funded through the City’s expense budget*; and

11. Parks agreed, as recorded in the “Gerson-Quinn Letter” to Commissioner Adrian Benepe on October 6, 2005, that “In the event that a conservancy-type organization is established to raise funds for the park, the Parks Department will encourage this entity to include a representative of Community Board 2 as well as the local Council Members as ex-officio members,” and the representatives of WSPC have agreed to this stipulation as well;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT COMMUNITY BOARD 2 MANHATTAN

1.     Appreciates and endorses the effort of this group of private citizens to create an organization to build community stewardship of the park, raising additional funds for maintenance, plantings, horticultural activity, increased PEP presence, and organizing volunteers and the like;

2.     Strongly encourages the WSPC to work with other established organizations – especially the Washington Square Association, the Friends of Washington Square Park, the Village Alliance, and others – for the benefit of the park  and the community;

3.     Encourages the WSPC, once it establishes itself, to support other smaller parks in the city that do not have equally dynamic fundraising abilities or infrastructure;

4.      Insists that this organization incorporate into its by-laws the terms of the agreement represented in the “Gerson-Quinn Letter”;

5.     Insists that WSPC make public its budget and activities;

6.     Insists that its by-laws include a stipulation that WSPC appear periodically  (or at the request of either WSPC or CB2) before the Community Board to apprise the community of its plans and activities; and that the by-laws be submitted to the Community Board to verify compliance and be posted on its website; that WSPC come before the Community Board and seek its approval and consent in the event of any changes in the above-noted agreements.

* Regarding language in the resolution as far as funding, who says? The last figure I received from the Parks Department Press Office TWO WEEKS AGO added up to $31 million for all three phases, not $40 million. Where is the Community Board getting their figures? (Tho’ I do not doubt that the cost of the Park’s redesign will reach $40 million, that is not a figure that exists TODAY.)

Why did the Board not insist that the Parks Dept come to them and say “There is not enough money in the City budget and we need xx amount to keep the Washington Square Park going.” vs. what they did — enabling the City to force a private organization on the community?

It’s a different way of thinking that a number of these Community Board members have. They refused to even consider the comments that members of the Community made; their attitude was ‘we know better.’

But, in actuality, did they?

 

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