The 411 from the Feline

PARK IS A NO-GO: It’s great that Phase 3 of the Washington Square Park renovation is finally moving ahead. There’s one, umm, uncomfortable issue, though — it looks like that for the next year, the landmark Greenwich Village park, which is visited by thousands of tourists from around the world, won’t have any public restrooms. We stopped by the park Monday morning to check out the work’s progress. Bora Bozovic of East Coast Haz Mat was overseeing asbestos removal for the three park buildings, which had been sealed off from the public behind chain-link fencing. He said it’s a small job and that the asbestos is nonfriable, meaning not of the dangerous, crumbly type that easily gets airborne. Basically, the work involves removing asbestos-containing vinyl floor tiles from the park’s small office building, as well as abating some door caulking and stuff in the roof in the comfort-station building (i.e., restrooms). Bozovic said the job would be wrapped up by Wednesday at the latest, and that he was taking all the usual precautions, including use of air monitors and foam to keep down any asbestos particulates. But then there’s the bathroom issue. He said that earlier that morning he’d personally let two women in to use the restrooms, but that he wasn’t going to do it anymore. On the other hand, he said, he could really sympathize. “I feel bad for people. I know how I feel when I have to take a leak,” he said. As he uttered this, Bozovic, who is from Serbia, made the universal sign for “holding it in” — shimmying around in mock discomfort while pantomiming grabbing at his crotch. Echoing our thoughts, Bozovic said it might not be a bad idea to at least put in a few port-o-potties. We checked with Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson, who reported that port-o-potties are not currently part of the picture. “I don’t believe there are any provisions for temporary restrooms during the construction,” he stated. As for the park’s staff, Abramson said, during Phase 3 they can be found in a trailer on the street adjacent to the square or in the park house at nearby Downing Street Playground. Joe Soldevere, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Design and Construction, said there’s no exact date for the start of full-bore demolition of the park buildings. D.D.C. is technically in charge of Phase 3 since it involves the razing of the buildings, plus the construction of one new building that will encompass all the former uses of the three: space for park administration and maintenance staff, plus public restrooms. This final segment of the renovation project will last one year and cost $6.4 million. AAH Construction is doing the work. The large dog run, which is also part of the project, will remain in its existing location until the new run, on the park’s southern edge, is completed. The phase also includes a new play area that incorporates the old “Mounds” play hills.

THE MYSTERIES OF CHUPI: Palazzo Chupi reporter Toni Dalton tells us that Julian Schnabel’s famously pink (Pompeii red) tower on W. 11th St. has now almost completely been repainted a new hue, which she describes as “sandstone.” At first she thought artist/filmmaker Schnabel was merely putting a primer on the place, whose pink color had faded over the years. But who knows at this point?

MENDEZ STAYING PUT: City Councilmember Rosie Mendez says she’s not running to fill retiring state Senator Tom Duane’s seat. Mendez tells us that, after Duane’s recent surprise announcement that he won’t seek re-election this year, more than a few of her supporters asked her whether she planned to campaign for the 29th District seat. In addition, Brad Hoylman, whom Duane has given the nod to as his successor, called Mendez soon after Duane’s announcement, to sound her out on whether she was thinking of running. “I said no,” Mendez told us, adding that she told Hoylman, “I think you’d do a great job.” In fact, she already is endorsing him. “I’m supporting Brad,” she said. “He’s been a great district leader and a great chairperson of Community Board 2, and I look forward to working closely with him.” Mendez said, instead of going to Albany, she wants to keep working at the local level to better her East Village/Lower East Side Council District 2. In addition, she said, despite some initial rumors to the contrary, it doesn’t look like Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh will be running to fill Duane’s seat, either. Mendez said someone she knows recently reported having sighted Kavanagh out collecting petition signatures for re-election to the Assembly.

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