BY GABE HERMAN | A new Village group, the West Washington Place Block Association, plans to address local crime and other issues like excessive garbage and beautifying the area.
The new block association was co-organized by two Washington Place residents, Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand Book Store, and Rosalind Resnick, who owns and rents out eight townhouses in the Village, including three on Washington Place.
Wyden and Resnick have been friends for many years and lived together at 39 Fifth Ave. for 12 years, where they were both on the co-op board, then separately both wound up living on Washington Place.
Recently, Resnick was in the Strand when Wyden suggested forming a block association, since they work well together and both have a business background, Wyden said.
The group’s first meeting, titled “Save Our Street,” will be Wed., Sept. 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 122 Washington Place, between Sixth Ave. and Sheridan Square.
On the west side of Washington Square Park, Washington Place is two blocks long, running from the park to Sheridan Square and Sixth Ave. This group will only focus on the westernmost block, as there is already another block association for the eastern half.
Wyden and Resnick said the most pressing issues for the new group include crime and homelessness, which they said have gotten worse in recent years.
Wyden noted she has young children and that the scene across the street from her home is concerning.
“It’s just a continuous loop of people sitting on those steps and smoking crack,” she said.
She added that there is scaffolding on a New York University building next door, under which up to eight homeless people camp out.
“They feel very unsafe,” she said of her children, “as do I.”
Wyden said a friend just bought a townhouse around the corner and it has already been broken into, forcing the owner to board up the windows. She said she has also seen people looking through flower beds on the block, presumably for drugs.
Resnick said that trash boxes on the block have been used as drop-off points for drug deals, as well.
On election night in 2016, Resnick said, she woke up at 2 a.m. and heard someone outside grabbing the door handle and trying to get into the house. She said it was a homeless drug addict, and that it took three 911 calls before police finally arrived. When they did, they found the man sprawled by the front gate, and the officers remarked that they knew the guy.
Resnick added that she’s never seen an officer or squad car on the block.
“That’s why we as neighbors are getting together to form the block association,” she said, “to get our voices heard as a community.”
The two women hope a group voice can make a difference, because they said that individually they have reached out about various issues to N.Y.U., the police and the community board, but those groups have largely been unresponsive.
Other local issues they would like to address through the new group include excessive trash on the streets and adding flower boxes.
“I know we can beautify it,” Wyden declared of the block. She said a grassroots group could have an impact locally, plus would be a fun way to get to know neighbors.
Wyden and Resnick said they are trying to learn from other local block associations, such as the ones on Charles St., E. 11th St. and W. Ninth St. And the president of the eastern side of Washington Place has been very supportive of their effort, they said.
“We’re new Yorkers, we’re tough, we’re survivors,” Resnick said. “Once we get together as a community, we’ll be able to do all kinds of things.”
People can RSVP for the first meeting at WestWPBA@gmail.com.