Volume 73, Number 37 | January 14 - 20, 2004

Fundraising for Wash. Sq. proved harder than was anticipated

To The Editor:
In response to “Washington Sq. Park renovation proves slow going” (news article) and the related editorial, both in The Villager of Dec. 10, 2003, I enclose a copy of a memorandum dated June 27, 2003, which was sent by me to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and others.

I would appreciate your printing the memorandum in order to clarify the position of The Washington Sq. Association regarding the revitalization of Washington Sq. Park.

Anne-Marie W. Sumner
Sumner is president, The Washington Sq. Association

June 27, 2003

Memorandum to:

Adrian Benepe, Parks Commissioner
Lynne Brown, N.Y.U. senior vice president
James Smith, Community Board 2 chairperson
Honi Klein, Village Alliance executive director


Anne-Marie Sumner, president,
The Washington Sq. Association


Bill Castro , Manhattan borough Parks commissioner
Michael Haberman, N.Y.U. director of government
and community relations
B. C. Vermeersh, Washington Sq. Association,
board of directors

Washington Sq. Park revitalization

At the Annual Meeting of The Washington Sq. Association on June 18, 2003, we reported to our members on the status of our efforts to raise $5 million from private sources for the revitalization of Washington Sq. Park. The Parks Department has estimated the total project will cost $10 million.

A tax-exempt organization called The Fund for Washington Sq. Park was formed, to which the Friends of Washington Sq. Park made a $10,000 contribution. In addition, a small group from the board of The Washington Sq. Association was formed to work on the project. It was determined that it would be necessary to raise a substantial sum at the outset to employ a professional fundraiser because The Washington Sq. Association does not have a staff and its board is composed solely of volunteers. New York University has pledged to provide office space and equipment for the fundraiser.

Accordingly, a Village institution and private foundation were approached for a substantial initial grant. A formal request for a grant was developed and submitted to the foundation. Many meetings were held with both. To our disappointment, neither of the potential funding sources was willing to be the first to make a substantial donation.

We have reluctantly concluded that The Washington Sq. Association should not be the leading Village organization to exclusively pursue the fundraising effort because it lacks the resources that are required to get the project underway.

Our board remains committed to the project and will cooperate in every possible way with the organization selected to lead the effort. Because the project is so important to the community, and should be pursued as soon as possible, we believe it is in the best interests of all if another organization is now given the leadership role.

Anne-Marie W. Sumner


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