Park’s eastern half reopens


By Muneeza Iqbal

A year and a half after Washington Square Park’s eastern side was closed off, it at last reopened in time for desperate sunbathers. Parkgoers gave their reviews of how the renovation had affected things in the park, from the benches and playground equipment to, well, even the drug dealers, who, yes, are still around.

“They’re just part of the park, they’ll never get rid of them,” said Adam Nash who walks his dog in the park, of the dealers. “But I love the changes. The Parks Department has a history of doing a wonderful job in all the parks they have touched.”

Nash said the park is cleaner, the lawns and the stage area are larger, and the paths wider and more level.

Matt McShane and Matt Fury agreed the reconstruction has made the park more beautiful, yet they missed the charm of the old park.

“You can take the personality and pretend to put it back, but it’s not the same,” said Fury.

McShane, a New York University alumnus, was confused about why some of the benches had been removed.

“When I went to school here, it used to be packed around lunchtime,” he said. “Now, with less benches I wonder what will happen?”

Another park regular, though pleased with the renovation, was dissatisfied with the new benches. Declining to give his name, he complained about how his shirt kept getting caught on the bench’s rough backrest.

The playground on the park’s eastern side also got a facelift.

“We never went to the western playground because it wasn’t fenced in,” said Kelly Ruth as she watched her excited children play in the water sprinklers. She said that while the new playground is almost the same as the old one, the new swings are safer.

Stella Chang didn’t notice many changes in the playground but was just glad it had finally reopened. However, she pointed out that many hard surfaces were still left exposed, putting toddlers at risk of getting hurt.

One change that no one really seemed to be aware of was the Garibaldi statue’s having been shifted to the side of its circle and turned to face south.

“No one believes me!” said Tatiana Tylosky, an N.Y.U. student, who has pointed out the change to many of her friends. “It’s like he got up and moved to a shadier corner, but its such a subtle change that no one noticed or even cares!”