Volume 77 / Number 30 - Dec. 27 - Jan.2, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Villager photos by Jefferson Siegel

From left, Keen Berger, her daughter Sarah Berger and Sharon Woolums at last week’s memorial for Washington Square Park.

As fences go up, mourning for the square that was

By Jefferson Siegel

Huddled under umbrellas, a group of almost 30 activists opposed to the Washington Square Park renovation gathered for a candlelight vigil by the arch last Wednesday at 6 p.m. to mourn the loss of their park. They came from as near as a block away and as far as Brooklyn.

They would have preferred to have been standing near the park’s fountain — the planned moving of which slightly to the east they vehemently oppose — but it had been fenced off earlier just that afternoon.

“Some people think we’re going to forget about this, but we’re not going to forget,” said Keen Berger, Greenwich Village Democratic district leader, standing with her daughter Sarah.

The group formed a circle and, one by one, offered their thoughts on their battle to keep the park from being redesigned or their fondest park memories.

“I feel that the destruction of this park is the beginning of the destruction of Greenwich Village,” said Elizabeth Adam, a native Villager who lives on 12th St.

Filmmaker Matt Davis, who has chronicled every step in the opponents’ fight against the renovation, stood in the middle of the group, filming their comments for posterity. His ongoing documentary is titled “Square: Straightening Out Washington Square Park.”

Chelsea resident Connie Tate spoke to the camera, recalling, “Jam sessions in the park at 1 in the morning.”

“This is just another chapter in the destruction of this city by greed and real estate interests,” Tate said.

Wendy Brawer, founder of the East Village-based Green Map System, lamented, “It’s the year when Jane Jacobs is being remembered. How can they do this?”

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