Photos & Media Coverage: Rally To Keep Private Influence OUT, “Hot Dog Carts” IN Washington Sq Park Sunday

by cathryn on December 9, 2013

REVERSE BLOOMBERG’S PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SPACES

Early Sunday morning, December 8th at Washington Square Park!

Owner of “Hot Dog Carts” Soon to be Eliminated at Wash Square Speaks at Rally


Before Rally Begins:

Sean Basinski (l) and Monica (r)



Pigeons do a fly-over in solidarity

Getting Started:

Sean Basinski – Street Vendor Project

Wash Square Cart Owner Speaks, Shows City Permit

Geoffrey Croft, NYC Park Advocates

NY Dosas!!

Other vendors spoke out in support:

The group gathers together in solidarity at the end!

All Photos: Cathryn except Bottom Photo: Stacy Walsh Rosenstock via Metro NY

A note: Although all the media coverage headings mention hot dogs — all coverage mentioned the aspect of privatization of public space and an affluent, private group being allowed to make decisions at a public park.

Media Coverage:

New York Post : Today, Activists back hot dog vendors and Yesterday, Hot Dog Vendors Hope to Stay in Washington Square Park
Metro NY: Hot Dog Vendors to be Evicted from Washington Square Park
WCBS-TV Channel 2: Hot Dog Vendors: Wealthy Neighbors Want Us Out of Washington Square Park
WNBC-TV Channel 4: Hot Dog Vendors Fight to Stay in Park
1010 WINS
Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York: The War on Wieners
Eater: Supporters Rally to Save Washington Square’s Hot Dogs
A Walk in the Park: Today Washington Sq Park Vendors Demand City Keep Privatization Out of Park – Further Conservancy Influence Revealed and Yesterday: Newly formed Washington Square Park Conservancy Accused of Influence Peddling in Hot-Dog Vendor Banning

More from Washington Square Park Blog:

Background on the whole story: “Murky Areas” When it comes to Washington Square Private Conservancy Go Beyond Elite Group Banning “Hot Dog Carts” at the Park

Documentation: What was Known Yet Concealed in Public Statements by Washington Square Park Private Conservancy Founders

 
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica McLaughlin December 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

So glad to see people fighting for justice.

Reply

cathryn December 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Yes, Monica, for sure!!

Hope you’re well -

Cathryn

Reply

Leslie R December 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hi Cathryn,

I read your blog periodically and find it informative, but I think on the subject of The Washington Square Conservancy, you might not be giving balanced information. I have gone to a number of meetings, both CB2 and “informational meetings” about the Conservancy and my understanding, across the board, is that the organization’s sole intent is to do what the city has not been able to do- to keep the park clean, well-staffed, safe and accessible to everyone who uses it. I think they have gone to great pains to refute concerns that they are “privatizing” the park- in fact, the group seems to be actively soliciting community involvement on all levels (planting days, “it’s my park” events) . Honestly, who could possibly be against making Washington Square Park safer and cleaner??? When my children were younger, I would not have felt safe crossing the park at 10pm. I arrived at the playground many times in the morning to find used condoms strewn in the sandbox. My babysitter had her bag stolen off the handle of the stroller while she pushed my child on the swing. Another time a man entered the playground with a hand puppet and tried to lure children to follow him outside the fence- when we looked for a police officer, there were none. Washington Square park did not feel like “my park”. It felt like it belonged to the drug dealers, homeless people and rats. The city has not maintained proper staffing- police or maintenance- in Washington Square Park for decades. Wouldn’t everyone benefit from a dedicated source of funds to fill in where the city falls short? Would you be against PTA’s in public schools? Against Friends of the Highline? Against museums that solicit private money to enhance the programs they are able to offer to the public?

And as for the hotdog vendors, the position of the Conservancy is that they requested only that the vendors move from under the arch. They did not and do not advocate for their removal. It would be such a shame to have people opposed to something that protects the park over a Parks Department decision that had nothing to do with the Conservancy. You have the power to help protect the park, but it seems like, in taking a vocal position against an organization like the WSPC, you are using what could be a powerful voice for improving Washington Square Park to undercut what will insure its accessibility to everyone forever. That can’t be your goal?

Reply

Monica McLaughlin December 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Response to Leslie R: Violent crime in NYC has been dropping since 1990. The parks are clean. Perhaps you are young and do not have any life experiences to compare reality to and so are easily influenced by the media and by sound bites.

NYC is turning into a police state with surveillance every where. The city parks are increasingly being turned into shopping malls and/or private playgrounds for the wealthy. We, the people, do not need the wealthy to look after us. That is the job of government which is supposed to be of the people and for the people. This is why we pay taxes. We should not allow the wealthy to make up the rules for our public spaces in exchange for what we already are or should be getting from our government.

Reply

LESLIE R December 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Dear Monica,
Actually, I am forty-nine and have lived in Greenwich Village since 1984. I went to Parsons School of Design and I have raised two children in the Village. I am “the people”. I do not see the WSPC as the “wealthy looking after us”. I see them as an insurance policy against a backslide into the state of the city (and the park) as it was in the 80′s. I am not sure what you feel you are being prevented from doing by the WSPC. Are you unable to use the park at any time? Are you unable to take your dogs to the dog run? Are you unable to bring your children to the playground? How exactly is your use and enjoyment of the park being negatively impacted by the WSPC? I would not want to think that you were being influenced by sensational media sound bites, so I look forward to hearing the specific objections you have.
Meanwhile, I agree with you that our taxes should be sufficient funding for the care and maintenance of public spaces, but depending on individual mayoral administrations, that has been cyclical. So if you are old enough to remember what the parks were like in the 80′s, I would think you could reflect on that and recognize the benefit of private organizations to see them through every administration.
I know it is a common position of social activists to be against the idea of private money in public projects, but I would think that educated, aware citizens would be willing to recognize that good things that benefit everyone often come from philanthropy. Some examples of this are The Highline, The Central Park and Bronx Zoos, all the museums, PTA’s in public schools and even smaller endeavors like Kickstarter. Cathryn, for example, has solicited private money through Kickstarter to fund her endeavors. See- http://bgirlguide.com/?page_id=116. And I believe you have worked with Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, a non-profit, privately funded organization, to try to get your apartment building Landmark status.
So although I hear that you are concerned, I wonder why. And I also wonder how someone who lives in Brooklyn (Cathryn) and someone else who lives on the Upper East Side (you) represent “the people” of the Village more than someone who has lived here for thirty years (me).

Reply

Monica McLaughlin December 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I am against the wealthy making up the rules that the rest of us have to live by. I do not care how well-intentioned they CLAIM to be. Wealthy people rarely go to public parks. They are not interested in beautifying them. They are interested in using them for their own personal economic gain.

When these wealthy conservancies turn public parks into shopping malls, the people lose (Bryant Park, Union Square). My brother, an artist, was kicked out to make room for the mall! When wealthy people take over public parks and put up privately owned tennis bubbles that only the wealthy can afford to go to, the people lose. (Queensboro Oval in the Upper East Side rented out 10 months of the year to the wealthy!!).

I do not live near WSP. I live in the Upper East Side. We have a corrupt park conservancy in Carl Schurz Park. I reviewed their taxes and had their 501(c)3 status taken away. These are greedy people who want to launder their ill-gotten money and their financial kick backs through a “legitimate” organization.

I did not work with Friends of the Upper East Side Historical Districts to landmark the apartment building I live in. It was put on the Landmark Calendar by our Council person Jessica Lappin after the corrupt NYC Government stripped it of its landmark status. It was re landmarked by the City. Friends of the UESHD has worked to fight the fraudulent hardship application put in by billionaire owner the Stahl family, but so have I. I am an attorney and I reviewed those documents, researched and wrote hundreds of pages of arguments againt the application.

Insurance against a back slide? Um . . . we have a militarized police force and security cameras every where. How on earth could we back slide? Our jails are filled to capacity with non violent offenders. Just throw a piece of paper on the ground and it will get you 5 years! We don’t need the wealthy to do us any favors. We pay lots of taxes. Some of those taxes should go toward park maintenance.

And yes, we are the people — Catheryn and I and you. You no more own WSP because of your proximity than do I. It is a PUBLIC park. PUBLIC. We are all residents of NYC. We, the people, who live in NYC.

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Leslie R December 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Dear Monica and Cathryn,
I wouldn’t want to stereotype, but if I did, an Upper East Side lawyer might be presumed by many to be among the “wealthy”. And a journalist who solicits private money to support their journalistic pursuits might be considered biased. Would it be fair for anyone to make a judgement about your integrity because of your address, profession or pursuit of other interests? Is it any more fair to make judgements about the intentions of others because of their last names and perceived bank account balances? That’s called classism and it works both ways. The statement that “wealthy people do not go to parks” and “are not interested in beautifying them” is patently absurd and as classist and uneducated as saying all attorneys are crooks, all bloggers are armchair journalists and everyone on the Upper East Side is rich and snotty. And Monica, you seem to be arguing both side of the same coin; the wealthy are corrupt and not really interested in “beautifying” the parks/ the parks should not be “beautified”. The NYC government and Parks Department is corrupt/ the parks should be left to the NYC Parks Department. With regard to the WSPC, there is a big difference between wanting to preserve the aesthetics of a public monument by moving a fast food vendor and its associated detritus and turning a park into a mall. Also, the WSPC did present their mission to CB2 at a public meeting in the spring of last year. I attended that meeting. They made a presentation, entertained questions and opened the floor to comments and counter-presentations. CB2 then held a vote and voted TO support the organization.
I agree with both of you that the public has every right to be vocal and concerned about anything that involves public space, but I object to your rejection of the WSPC as an ill-intentioned, corrupt vanity project to benefit the “wealthy”. Wouldn’t it be more effective for you to actually get involved and take advantage of the opportunity to interact with these people in a positive way rather than to sit in your offices condemning them and trying to turn a Parks Department decision into a vindictive move by the WSPC?

cathryn December 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hi Leslie,

I think it’s really important to read the actual statements of what Washington Square Park Conservancy founders said they would be focusing on and what their actual intentions were and are as filed in documents to New York State and in other documents and emails I obtained. If they were just raising funds and planting flowers, maybe not so bad, who knows…? But as currently configured, they are able to decide decisions about what gets funded at the park, where the money goes, all out of view of the public.

As one community member said, Washington Square Park in 2013 is not Central Park in the 1970s.

The lack of honesty, the misrepresentation, the concealed information – if they had come before the public with their true intentions then the public, including park users and the Community Board, could have made an informed decision about them. They chose not to do this.

I don’t look at Washington Square Park as only belonging to people in Greenwich Village. I look at it as a park that is an important public space and what happens at this park resonates beyond its 10 acres.

My getting “private money” as an individual from supporters via Kickstarter to fund a self-published book has nothing to do with a city public park having a private conservancy which will take money from corporate, real estate, other elite interests and then be able to influence what goes on at that public park, out of public view. I am not a fan of conservancies in general because we see again and again what happens – commercialization, privatization, less transparency, changes in public use, determination by wealthy, corporate, elite, real estate interests of what happens in these spaces. Washington Square Park has not been falling apart; it has been functioning, on the whole, well as run by the city. Not perfect, but no conservancy is ‘perfect’ either and they bring baggage and a whole lot of negatives.

The “clean safe and beautiful” is just a distracting mantra at this point. Yes, the conservancy founders say, of course, they had nothing to do with the vendors but interesting how one month after Sarah Neilson (WSP Park Administrator and the organization’s “Executive Director”) started and they wrote in a memo that they wanted the “hot dog guy moved away from the Arch view corridor” and “new and different vendors,” that is what happened. I think, unfortunately, there is a pattern here of misrepresentations by this group. If you choose to believe all their words on the face of it, then I don’t know if you have viewed all the underlying documentation that counters this.

You may not think Washington Sq Park can become commercialized and privatized like Bryant Park or Madison Square Park and yet it easily could based on this group’s hidden plans. I have more documentation on their true intentions concealed from the public that I will be outlining later today.

Thanks for your comment. I hope I answered your questions.

Cathryn.

Reply

cathryn December 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Hi Leslie,

I’m a little confused by some of what you have written but the main thing is – if you heard the Washington Sq Park Conservancy presentation before CB2, and you’ve read information here at this blog, then you would know that the Conservancy founders misrepresented themselves on so many different levels that it is hard not to be disconcerted by it. And this was based on Parks Department colluding with them to do so – with one goal, to get the private Conservancy “approved” by the Community Board – an organization which has much larger goals than the “little friends group” they portrayed themselves as in public statements.

If you are aware of the problems with privatization of public space, then you know why this is a problem.

I am not certain if you set out to be provocative, but, at this point in the world, musicians fund their records via entities like Kickstarter and filmmakers film their films and there is no reason why a writer can’t fund their book. This has nothing to do with “bias.” Confused by what you could possibly mean by that. If you are pointing to me vs. pointing to these Conservancy founders and their public statements then I think that is bias.

Thanks for writing!

Cathryn.

p.s. There were no “counter-presentations” with regards to the Wash Sq Park Conservancy. That might have been a healthy process.

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Monica McLaughlin December 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Leslie,

You are free to stereotype as much as you want and it is clear from your writings that you worship wealth (like many others) although you, yourself may not be wealthy. I speak from personal experience and from knowledge I have gained. Whether I am or am not wealthy is irrelevant. I am not a member of any park conservancy. I am not making up the rules for the less wealthy to live by.

Why do you assume that I have not gotten involved with any parks? I have. I single-handedly had the Carl Schurz Park not-for-profit status taken away because of tax fraud. I am responsible for the reopening of the hard-surfaced dog run to the public after we were kicked out after the City built a filthy kittly litter filled dog run that no one wanted. I actually read the construction contract so I know where they got their kickbacks — I know what was paid for that was never delivered.

It is you who are naive. You have never gotten involved on any other level than as a low level volunteer. If you had done anything else you would realize that there is NO working with the Parks Department or a Conservancy. The two work hand in hand to benefit the wealthy. (Check the names of the board members on the big conservancies and you will find lots of ex Parks commissioners on them.) Compounding the Parks Department’s bad qualities by adding a conservancy is not going to help matters.

The Parks ARE beautiful. We do NOT need the wealthy to make them beautiful.

Reply

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