DO YOU LIKE WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK??
I do. I've spent lots of time in that park, bull-shitting around, busking (that's -- playing my guitar for passer's change), hanging out with friends, people watching, lounging, snacking, drinking in the grass, kissing boys, or I guess more accurately, boy, watching parades and events, oogling over NYU gents, watching performances and in general, basking in the beauty and the history that is Washington Square Park.
Some big changes are about to be made to the park that are going to render it incapacitated for many years. My friend Matt Davis, who produced my "My Pussy Is Magic" video has been documenting the Washington Square Park hearings and related ordeal and has spent a lot of time researching the m.o. and meaning of the remodeling of the park.
Apparently, if you're interested in getting involved with keeping the park the way it is, this may be your last chance. Read on if you are and / or watch this video clip:
Youtube Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJrUyRqWcvw
From an email from Matt Davis:
The Parks Dept. is erecting a construction fence, about to have its way with Washington Square Park. In order to achieve a new alignment with Fifth Ave., they will move the fountain (and surrounding plaza) 22 feet east of the park's central axis, where it has stood for 138 years.
Whatever the motive for this aerial symmetry, effects felt on the ground will include:
1) Closing at least half of the park for years to come, beginning with the Fountain Theater,
2) Erasing the amphitheatre aspect of the plaza, and reducing it more than 20%, crowding park users and performers into one another, or out of the soon-to-be street-level pedestrian passage.
3) Cutting down the ring of 8 mature shade trees, replacing them with trees of six inch diameter ... not even as thick as many of the existing trees' branches.
But the outcome is not decided. Read the newest developments below, and if you want to hold your public officials to their word, let them know you're paying attention by phoning them.
BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE:
Concerned New Yorkers Please Call TODAY--and spread the word:
Comptroller William: Thompson 212-669-3450
Council Member Alan Gerson: 212-788-7722
Council Speaker Christine Quinn Grey Elam and Kate Seely-Kirk 212-564-7757
Just as the Parks Dept begins construction on the unpopular redesign of Wash Sq Park, a new study by the top building conservation authority in New York, posted at www.openwsp.com, concludes that Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe deceived the New York City Council when he stated, in Council budget hearings, that it would cost no more to move the park?s historic fountain than to keep it where it is.
In fact, the study, by the prestigious Building Conservation Association (more info about them at http://www.bcausa.com/portfolio.htm) concludes, it will cost taxpayers an additional $508,000 to move the fountain.
The operative paragraph of the study is on the Executive summary, second page (after title page) last paragraph. The study shows that $508,000 of the $2,500,000 total cost of restoring the fountain is associated with moving the fountain, not repairing and restoring it. This has to do with demolishing the perfectly good existing foundation and building a new one, as well as unnecessarily moving every piece of the fountain offsite.
In a letter to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe dated August 6, 2007 (also on www.openwsp.com), City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Alan Gerson's wrote:
"We expect to see the documents after bids are received to confirm that there is no more than a negligible cost to moving the fountain. In the meantime, we will hold you to your City Council testimony dated June 6, 2006 (see attached) that there is no significant cost differential. Should it be otherwise we would oppose moving the fountain."
To this day, the Parks Department has refused to provide any documents pertaining to its deceptive claim, which was used to secure city funding for this project.
As a result, the Open Washington Square Park Coalition calls upon Comptroller William Thompson to investigate the deliberate misrepresentation with which the Parks Dept received taxpayer funding for this unpopular redesign scheme for Washington Square Park and to use the subpoena powers of his office to investigate a suspicious pattern of circumstances which have led Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and his subordinates to repeatedly deceive the New York City Council, the Community Board, and the public.
In addition, we call upon New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Alan Gerson to stand behind their public letter of August 6, 2007 to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and withhold capital funding for the Parks Department until it is willing to disclose and submit for approval a true budget and plan for Washington Square Park.