Scoopy, Week of May 1, 2014

On one of the nicer days last week in Washington Square Park, shirts were off and skin was in.   PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
On one of the nicer days last week in Washington Square Park, shirts were off and skin was in. PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Park toilet tally: We asked the Parks Department about the concerns expressed to us about the new Washington Square Park restrooms by Bob Gormley, Community Board 2 district manager, who said he’d like to see some monitoring of them now, especially after having seen one guy basically taking a trouserless sink shower there in the past. However, Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson said not to worry. “The design of the new building creates a safer atmosphere than the previous building configuration,” he assured us in an e-mail. “The restroom entrances are next to the staff entrance, where park maintenance, operations and security staff will be coming and going throughout the day. The building entrances also face the interior of the park, increasing visibility by park users. There are currently no plans to assign a staff member exclusively inside of the restrooms, but we have instructed our maintenance and operations staff to check on them frequently throughout the day, and Park Enforcement Patrol officers will check this location throughout the day, as well. Restrooms will close at dusk. Any unlawful incidents such as the indecent exposure one that you mentioned should also be reported to the N.Y.P.D.” O.K., then, well what about the complaints of Doris Diether, the grande dame / zoning maven of C.B. 2, who says she’s been fielding calls from men and women alike complaining that there aren’t enough places to, well, go in the new comfort station, plus they’re just not up to snuff? “The new restrooms at Washington Square Park are also A.D.A.-compliant, whereas the former ones were not,” Abramson responded. “The new restrooms contain an equal number of facilities for men and women and the configuration was discussed with Community Board 2 during the planning process.” As for the exact bathroom-facilities breakdown, Abramson wrote, “The public men’s room consists of 3 urinals, 1 toilet and 2 sinks. The public women’s room consists of 4 toilets and 2 sinks. There is a public family room with 1 toilet and 1 sink. Toilet partitions are included in the new restrooms. At the former restroom, the public men’s room had 10 urinals, 5 toilets and 2 sinks. The public women’s room had 10 toilets and 2 sinks. There was no public family room before.” Our recollection of the old men’s restroom was that it was kind of disgusting, that there were no partitions between the toilets and that it wasn’t used by 15 guys at once. So, hopefully, the more streamlined version won’t be a disaster. We’ll see.

Better than the mounds: Also on Washington Square Park, Carol Greitzer told us she read the comments of Alan Gerson — who, like her, is a former city councilmember — on the new children’s “hidden valley” and cable-rope play structure. Like Gerson, she was impressed. She checked it out the other day with her daughter, Elizabeth, who grew up playing on the park’s play equipment. “I think it was very imaginative,” Greitzer said of the new play area. “It’s much nicer than the original mounds. … But I still don’t like the park design. It’s too formal,” she said of the George Vellonakis-led renovation. 

Read all about it! Astor Place newsstand vendor Jerry Delakas is back in action at his kiosk after taking a little time off to recuperate. “He’s back on track,” Speedy at Astor Place Hairstylists told us. Delakas, who had felt short of breath coming up a subway stairway a while back, said he’s feeling a bit better, but still not 100 percent. He’s going for another test this Thurs., May 1, up at New York Presbyterian Hospital on W. 168th St. “They’re going inside,” he said, pointing to his chest. Speedy said he just wishes Delakas, for his own health, would stop smoking. And, hey, what happened to Kelly King’s cool “Victory” sign in gold letters that used to be at the top of Delakas’s stand? Surely, some Consumer Affairs inspector must have pulled it down? The veteran vendor just shrugged. “They took it in the night,” he said. “I don’t want to point fingers.”

Bike-lane blues: The Noho-Bowery Stakeholders’ Zella Jones was not happy when the Department of Transportation started moving forward with the construction of the Fourth Ave./Lafayette St. protected bike lane. In fact, according to Shirley Secunda, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee, Jones had been asking for a three-year moratorium on constructing the lane, so that all the construction projects along the street could finish up. But this is New York — does construction ever stop?

Playground surface fix: In more park-related news, over at Union Square Park, the playground is closed for a few weeks for a $150,000 renovation of the safety surface. A spokesperson for the Union Square Partnership business improvement district told us: “Thanks to the generous contributions from local residents and businesses who support the Partnership’s work, they’re able to make this happen. This work is necessary because of the heavy use that the wildly popular play space has experienced since it opened in December 2009. Work will start at the end of April and take between two to three weeks, and the playground will be open for use before the start of the busy spring/summer season.”

Correction: The headline for last week’s article about radical attorney Stanley Cohen incorrectly stated that he had pled guilty to tax evasion. In fact, the charge he pled to was “obstructing and impeding the due administration of the Internal Revenue Code,” a broad offense that can include filing false information or other “conduct designed to impede or obstruct an audit or criminal tax investigation.”