West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 12 | August 22 - 28, 2007

Washington Square design put out to bid, with a shorter fence

By Albert Amateau

The Parks Department on Aug. 17 put out for competitive bidding the reconstruction of the northwest quadrant of Washington Square Park and its fountain plaza, according to the City Record.

The bid documents are available for $25 to contractors or their messengers at the department’s Olmsted Center in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The bids are due Sept. 18.

The project, currently the subject of two lawsuits by groups seeking to block the redesign, was also the subject of a last-minute review on July 26 by the Washington Square Park Task Force, a group appointed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Alan Gerson to monitor whether the plan complies with an agreement about design features that Quinn and Gerson made with Parks.
Quinn’s aide, Kate Seely-Kirk, said on Tuesday that department officials had declined to provide bid documents but that they did reveal some details of the design as it related to the so-called Gerson-Quinn agreement.

Although many Villagers insist there should by no fence around the park perimeter, the Gerson-Quinn agreement called for a fence no higher than 4 feet. At the July 26 Task Force review, the department plans specified a perimeter fence whose pickets were 4 feet high, except for the posts, spaced every 8 feet, which rose 4 feet above sidewalk level

Seely-Kirk said that Parks officials told her that the bid documents call for a 3-foot-4-inch perimeter fence on a 6-inch concrete curb, for a total height of 3 feet 10 inches, except for the fence posts at 8-foot intervals which would be 4 feet 2 inches high from the sidewalk level.

Task Force members on July 26 found the game tables near the entrance of the northwest corner of the park, where many seniors play Scrabble, were too large to allow people in wheelchairs to get between the tables to watch or take part in the games. Seely-Kirk said Parks officials told her the bid documents called for tables that would allow wheelchair users to move between them.

Task Force members also called for bathrooms in the redesigned park to comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and be wheelchair accessible. But Parks personnel told Seely-Kirk that bathrooms are not to be included in the first phase of the two-phase reconstruction.

While bids are due in September, the beginning of construction is likely to be decided by the decisions on the court cases — or final resolution of any appeals. Moreover, an earlier round of bids on a prior design for the first phase went out last year, but all the bids were rejected in June 2006 because they came in too high for the $6 million phase-one budget.


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