This is just one of the great snapshots you’ll find of the new, supposedly improved Washington Square Park if you hop on over to the WSP Blog, which has been a rallying place and an informational clearninghouse for opponents of the park’s redesign. The project, a joint effort (heh heh, WSP … joint!) betwen NYU and the city, took almost two years and cost somewhere between $15 and $20 million. The most controversial features were the removal of historical trees, a decrease in the number of conversation nooks or alcoves, and the shifting of the fountain itself in order to align it with Fifth Avenue and the arch.
Reactions, at least in comments on the WSP Blog, are mixed. Some welcome the face lift. Others have noted a renewed vigilance among park rangers, who’ve apparently been handing out tickets to kids playing football or dipping their feet in the fountain. Somebody’s asking for a sit in!
WSP Blog also reminds readers that just because everything looks nice and pretty, that doesn’t mean there weren’t legitimate reasons to oppose redevelopment plans along the way:
Of course, there were things to oppose. There were serious issues of non-transparency, evasiveness, lies and minimal consideration to community concerns by the NYC Parks Department along the way. There did not have to be such acrimony.
That could all have been avoided if the Parks Department had given true
consideration to some of the changes a majority of the Community asked
for. Yes, people will use the Park but there is a level of bitterness that will never go away. That didn’t have to be. If the Parks Department, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, et al, would realize that in retrospect, and perhaps going forward, then there might be something gained from this.
Have you been yet? What do you think?