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New York Daily Photo: Jeopardy
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Saturday, 5 May 2007


One of the biggest local disputes is over redesign versus renovation plans for Washington Square Park. Everyone agrees on one thing, that the park is in serious disrepair and this process has delayed much needed work. Organizations have been formed, like OpenWSP and Preserve Washington Square Park. Lawsuits have been mounted (Kupferman, Greenberg, Harris) in opposition to a plan for what is alleged to be a fairly major wholesale redesign (by landscape architect Vellonakis) which calls for a perimeter fence, some tree cutting, a realignment of the fountain and a reduction and leveling of the plaza area. There are those, however, who favor the redesign, seeing the current design as not being of historical significance or necessarily optimal. Of course, the Village has been a magnet and breeding ground for political activism for eons, with battles like Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses, so this debacle should come as no surprise. Space does not permit fair coverage here of the issues involved. Here's one thread of postings which will give you a flavor of the debate. The whole affair has become very politicized and started to take on a life of its own. One factor in the equation is the fear of change and the unknown. Many regulars love the park with its planned and unplanned activities, social networking and overall culture - one can find chess, music, scrabble, street performers, petanque, concerts, debates, artists, political demonstrations, festivals, filming, dog runs and relaxing all in 9.75 acres. The photos are from yesterday's "Be-In" organized by Jonathan Greenberg. My biggest fear is the timetable for whatever is decided. Two years have been projected, but the memorial arch in the park saw a chainlink fence around it for 14 years (due to lack of funds) before restoration was completed. A similar fate for the park would leave visitors and locals without use of one of the world's premier playgrounds ...


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