Per a tipster's camera phone, the fountain is once again on at Washington Square Park. The paving stones are laid, the lampposts are up, the swine flu is gone. In fact, it seems like the opening of the renovated northwest quadrant of the park is imminent, and indeed, the Washington Square Park Blog hears that the fences will come down on Monday after 16 1/2 months. Blogger Cathryn Swan, who has been very critical of various elements of the ongoing park renovation, also sounds like she's ready to bury the hatchet:
No one was against a true renovation of Washington Square Park – the park had fallen into serious disrepair due to lack of maintenance by the Parks Department. What people were against was the pushing through of a design with a lack of community involvement in the decision-making process. When you look at the newly completed section, there’s new green lawn and bright flowers, there’s new pathways, there’s new fencing, there’s new lighting, there’s new benches. A true “renovation” of the existing space would have also put forth most of these same changes – except the fence would have been lower and the lighting would have been different (not the stock lighting used at oh so many other George Vellonakis-designed city parks, including City Hall and Abingdon Square). Yeah, the aligning of the Fountain with the Arch seems ridiculous and the leveling off of the sunken plaza unnecessary. That ‘other’ renovated version of Washington Square Park would have looked gorgeous.
Nonetheless, the park is probably opening at the perfect time – people throughout the City are reconsidering their finances and their values. It’s not the same political or cultural climate as it was when the Park’s redesign plans were first presented.
How long will this brief pause to smell the roses last? Until the first folkie gets impaled, obvi.
· The Unveiling of Washington Square Park’s NW Quadrant & Fountain Plaza: Word Is Fencing To Come Down Monday, May 18th [WSP]
· Washington Square Park Renovation coverage [Curbed]