Washington Square Park comfort station. Instead of making the bathroom safe by assigning personnel to properly secure the maintain the facility, for the last few weeks the heavily used bathrooms have been closed early by the city. A Parks Enforcement patrol officer assigned to the Washington Square Park bathroom, who declined to give his name for fear of losing his job, said he walks in on sexual encounters in the park's men's room "every single day." In the 70's the city laid-off every single one of its bathroom attendants, more than 700. (Photo: Andrea Swalec/DNAinfo)
The bathrooms in Washington Square Park have long been an issue-from violence and drug dealing/using, to sexual activity.
The Parks Department's recent solution? Instead of making the bathroom safe by assigning personnel to properly secure the maintain the facility and enforcing existing rules and laws, they have elected to close the facility early, depriving all of the public access to this heavily used bathroom, according to reports by DNAinfo, and WPIX 11.
The new hours, 9:00 -5:00pm are roughly half the hours the park is open. As a park user sensibly pointed out Illegal activity doesn't just occur before or after during normal business hours. In fact while the reporter for WPIX and a community board representative were in the bathroom, a man was washing himself in the sink with this pants down around his ankles according to the report.
Village resident Roberta Bayley, and Manhattan Community Board 2 District Manager Bob Gormley have even had resort to starting a petition to get the Parks Department to restore the hours but Parks is not budging. (In the 70's the city laid-off all of its bathroom attendants, more than 700.)
At one point in the WPIX piece a Park Enforcement Officer (PEP) officer and a CSA are seen going into bathroom after the reporter called the Parks Department press office.
In February a tourist was viciously assaulted during the day by an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) in the men's bathroom. The tourist, believed to be French, was punched in the face and left bloodied, and knocked out on the floor. The assailant is reportedly a park regular. No arrests have been made.
"The bathrooms are filthy and horrible and disgusting, but they're bathrooms, and that's an important thing when you're a woman in her 60s," said Roberta Bayley, who started a petition to restore the previous bathroom hours, told DNAinfo.
Park patrons have not been the only ones involved in violent incidents recently in the park- a number of park employees including enforcement officers have also been attacked.
The number of PEP officers has been dramatically reduced since the 90's while the number of officers assigned to so called "contract" parks - those run by public private partnerships - has exploded. The public and many elected officials have recently begun to complain about the lack of PEP numbers as crime in parks has exploded and become increasingly more public.
DNAinfo - September 22, 2011 - By Andrea Swalec
WPIX - September 22, 2011
A Walk In The Park - June 10, 2011
A Walk In The Park - February 12, 2011
A Walk In The Park - November 28, 2010
A Walk In The Park - June 22, 2011
Despite hiring freeze, privately funded parks get more attention
City Hall - June 17, 2011 - By David Sims
A Walk In The Park - June 15, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft
New York Daily news - May 24, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft
A Walk In The Park - March 13, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft
A Walk In The Park - April 29, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft