Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Washington Square Park Redesign Issues Continue

scheduled completion
Washington Square Park Redesign - Sign Of the Times - Long Delayed, Severely Over Budget, and Lack of Transparency & Oversight Continues.


Updated 9/8/10, 12:48 p.m. — A couple months back, I called a Greenwich Village community member who has been involved from the very beginning with the redesign plans for Washington Square Park, according to the Washington Square Park blog.

Washington Square Park Task Force (and Community Board 2) Chair Jo Hamilton had requested that I put together my “list of questions” around Phase II and said she’d try to get answers. I stated that these were not my questions alone; people in the community had questions. Ms. Hamilton didn’t appear to grasp my repeated attempts to infuse more transparency into the process. I wasn’t trying to write a blog piece – I wanted the Task Force to do what it’s supposed to do (and I’d happily report on that).

Frustrated that I couldn’t get this concept across, I started to put together some semblance of a list. When I asked this community member what questions she had, she responded, “Well, it’s kind of hard. We’ve been given so little information – it’s hard to even know what the questionsare.”

And there you have it. We’re in the middle of a multiple-year, $30 Million Dollar New York City project – a redesign of a historic landmark park in Greenwich Village – and all the bodies assigned oversight of the project (as outlined in Part I) have fallen asleep at the wheel.

So, here is my list of some of the unanswered questions plus information I’ve gathered including causes for alarm:

  • OVER BUDGET – The Washington Square Park Redesign project was originally budgeted – all three phases – for $16 million TOTAL but Phase I alone cost that. What will Phase II – budgeted at $9 million – come to? With the delays in work and numerous changes as it proceeds, I’m guessing way over that. The park is nowhere near done and the cost is already $9 mil.
    Dead … second time around…
  • DYING TREES – Why do these same two trees around the Fountain keep dying? 2009′s newly planted trees died, were replaced, and now the replacements are dead in less than a year. If you’ll recall, the forty year old original trees that lined the fountain werechopped down to make way for the aligning of the Fountain with the Arch at Fifth Avenue. Could these repeated deaths be due to the re-designer’s error? I think so. (Look for a separate post on this later this week.)

  • Read More:
Washington Square Park Phase II: An Eerie Silence Part 2 — Lack of Transparency & Oversight Continues – Unanswered Questions; New Information


  1. I, too, am interested in the dead trees. Also, are sustainable technologies being used in the redesign? For example, permeable paving.

  2. Thanks for covering this and linking to my piece! When I wrote it's "eerie," it truly is. Everyone has pretty much walked away from oversight of this project. I'm not certain if most park projects operate that way but, when there are so many problems, you'd hope The City Council or Community Board would step in.

    Georgia, I haven't heard anything about permeable paving. I'm not sure what it is. Mostly they use the technologies that will get them 'gold stars' from the public (they aren't exactly 'paving the way' here) but they are on the slow end as far as any real progressive building or 'green' technologies. Phase III has an outside architecture firm and that's where some of it comes in -- use of recycled rainforest wood ... it was supposed to be a LEEDS certified building but I haven't heard that brought up lately. I can't really think of any sustainable technologies that have been utilized in Phase I or Phase II. There might be something but I can't think of it. I'll be writing about the trees soon.

    Thanks for bringing further attention to this issue, A Walk in the Park!

    WSP Blog