We at the Village Alliance love Washington Square Park, and are thrilled that our 11th Annual Taste of the Village benefit this year sold more tickets than ever before. We also thought it was a good time to learn more about the WSP Conservancy and their involvement in our world famous park. So we sat down for a Q & A with Sarah Neilson, Administrator for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and Executive Director of the WSP Conservancy, to become better acquainted with the Conservancy.
VA: Why does Washington Square Park need a conservancy and what is its purpose?
WSPC: The Conservancy will bring together neighbors and develop a community of supporters for the park – as volunteers, as eyes on the park, and as advocates. Their contributions will supplement what the Parks Department already provides. The Parks Department will continue to manage the park and make all policy decisions related to the park.
VA: How are board members of the WSP Conservancy selected?
WSPC: Members are chosen for their passion for Washington Square Park, their commitment to work hard, and their skills to fulfill the mission of the Conservancy.
VA: What can we expect from the WSP Conservancy?
WSPC: Our goals are straightforward – clean, safe and beautiful. We want to raise funds to bring in additional maintenance staff for the park, especially an evening shift; we want to bring in additional PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) officers to help with park safety; and we want to bring in additional gardening staff, plant materials and many opportunities for volunteer gardening in the park.
We want the park to be fun for all. We will support existing programming that is of interest to the community and bring Playground Associates to the park to provide activities for kids and families.
VA: Is the WSP Conservancy the same as the Bryant Park Corporation?
WSPC: No. There are many types of friends-of groups around the city; we are very different than the Bryant Park Corporation. We do not manage or operate the park; all park workers are City employees; the City has final say over all events, programs and concessions in Washington Square Park. All of our events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the once-per-year Taste of the Village, which supports the park.
VA: How can people become involved with the WSP Conservancy?
WSPC: They can start with our website, www.washingtonsquareparkconservancy.org, which has a lot of information about the park.
We invite people to join us for “It’s My Park Day” on October 19 – we’ll be planting bulbs for next spring. People can get in touch via the Volunteer page on the website.
We also hope people will help spread the word. And of course we accept contributions to support our efforts to keep the park clean, safe and beautiful.
Founded by a group of Greenwich Village residents, the WSP Conservancy’s mission is:
The Washington Square Park Conservancy (WSPC) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization working with the New York City Parks Department and neighborhood groups to ensure that Washington Square Park continues as a diverse and historical urban green space through engaging volunteers and raising funds to keep the park clean, safe and beautiful.