Ever since running those photos of workers setting up shop in Washington Square Park last week, we've been waiting for the angry e-mails to flood in. But they haven't. Could it be that the rapid transition from pending litigation to certain renovation has resulted in a bit of shell-shock amongst the old guard of Greenwich Village bohemians? Not quite! Finally, a park lover dares speak her mind, and the topic is trees. And while the big one pictured at right is most likely safe until Dec. 26, we ca't say the same for other guys:
In removing dozens of trees (I've heard thirty) in Washington Square Park, and other 'plans' by the Parks Department, which include aligning the fountain with the arch, reducing the public space and the fountain plaza to make it more 'green,' & removing the chess tables, city officials and, perhaps, more visibly, NYU, are taking away what made Washington Square Park historically, ecologically, and socially what it is. In addition, City officials are tampering with human and wildlife space and the wildlife's existence. There are many squirrels and birds that reside in those trees. Squirrels, in particular, are territorial and do not easily move to another area. Are they not taken into consideration? Isn't it important if their survival is at stake? Where will they move TO with the removal of up to thirty trees?
What do we make of the needless destruction OF the trees coinciding
with Mayor Bloomberg's supposed tree and sustainability initiative, here we have the Parks Department cutting DOWN numerous trees? And, ironically (maliciously?) to create more "green" space (talk about not seeing the forest FOR the trees) and move their precious arch, while destroying and tampering with the existing ecosystem. They are also interfering with the historical spirit of the park while catering to a corporate entity which already has more than enough visible presence (and land)
in the area.
In the courts, none of the legal challenges held up, so I would argue this needed (needs) to be brought out into the court of public opinion. Why is it so quiet?
There is an important place for - and argument to be made by - wildlife advocates and ecosystem (that means our city and other species) defenders. I don't, however, know how much time there is 'left.'
Can your Park be bought? Aren't there dozens of parks in the Parks system that could use that $16 million? Is this about the encroachment of NYU into the area, the loss
of previously entrenched Jane Jacobs bohemian types to wall street, advertising and "glamour" field stereotypical bodies who can't be bothered (or really... don't care)? This is another example of the further sanitization of public - and all - space. Can't we keep a little bit of grit and spirit in our city or, in this climate, is that just not possible?