April 13, 2008

Are We Losing Union Square?

Here we go again. First Washington Square Park loses the fountain and gets "No Loitering" (???) signs to ward off the "bad guys" trying to play chess, now this:
Union Square Boondoggle (I
Parks Dept. privatization plan for Union Square Park comes under fire
By Alex Kane, April 12, 2008 02:31PM EDT
The chain link fences are up around the north end of Union Square Park as the city prepares to launch a $20 million renovation that critics say privileges private business interests over the public good.

The overhaul began in 2002 as a $1.9 million initiative by then City Council Member Margarita Lopez to improve two playgrounds on both sides of the pavilion at the north end of Union Square. By 2004, the Parks Department and the Union Square Partnership had folded the playground money into a $14 million scheme that would install a privately run restaurant in the pavilion. The pricetag is now at $20 million with an anonymous donor contributing $5 million.
“There’s absolutely no rationale for the city to be doing this except to appease business groups,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit watchdog group dedicated to monitoring New York City’s public spaces. “This is an area with the highest concentration of restaurants in New York City, and the lowest amount of playground space. The fact that the Business Improvement District has been able to usurp the public’s interest and the community’s interest is very unfortunate.” [...]

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