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Opinion: Buck stops with Parks commissioner on Washington Square mayhem

BY SUGAR BARRY | I believe it is now well past time for THE Honorable Parks Commissioner to step to the fore and give immediate attention to the world-famous Washington Square Park and the current long-running, dangerous, outrageous debacle there.

It is often said the buck stops at the top, and so as the top, the commissioner’s duty here is to provide and ensure a safe environment in our parks, let alone a decent level of civility, lawfulness and comfort.

We are consumed by the lawless, blatant selling and using drink and drugs at all hours! Fornicating, peeing, attacking with knives and guns, robbing and pillaging — not to mention the matter-of-fact bike riding and skate boarding blithely endangering us all.

Our children are hardening to the “new normal” of ignoring laws in the once-pleasant, civil oasis! A sad commentary altogether on Washington Square Park today.

Our local managers — in ALL disciplines, sweepers to lawyers and social workers — are wonderful people but their hands are usually so tied by bureacracies.

We rightfully expect the buck — our bucks — which stop at the top, Dear Commissioner, will provide you with the impetus to act for us, actually for all the parks, though my primary interest is here at home in Greenwich Village. So, please, for all (the needy perpetrators, too, if one is to be PC — though PC can sometimes work the wrong way), please provide us with a peaceful space once again.

The duty of THE Commissioner awaits!

The 1,700,  more or less, parks, swimming pools, tennis courts, gardens, ball fields, etc. under the aegis of the Parks Department reach a huge number of our citizens.

There is great power in numbers!

I suggest Commissioner Sue Donoghue use that power, rightfully so, on behalf of our citizens; Mr. Adams might react to our — and his — problems differently.

Barry is a self-described “neighborhood defender” who lives in Greenwich Village.


  1. Greenwich Goblin Greenwich Goblin September 2, 2022

    “not to mention the matter-of-fact bike riding and skate boarding blithely endangering us all“

    Comical. Love the vocab words, though, you probably have a HUGE brain. Washington Square Park remains as one of the few vestiges of proletariat culture in NYC. God forbid there be a community of people in a public space that isn’t sponsored by State Farm. If the city were run by people like you, we’d uproot every tree in the city for not being sterile enough.

  2. Village Biz Owner Village Biz Owner August 26, 2022

    Start by dumping CB 2, whose members are blind to the plight of the park and ignorant to the decay of the quality of life around the park. Rather than a jewel in the neighborhood, it’s become a sore oozing out to surrounding areas and businesses. I’m tired of being shoplifted and seeing my wares sold in the park. Put all the drug dealers on a bus to Texas ’cause DA won’t prosecute.

  3. Robert Lederman Robert Lederman August 25, 2022

    Let’s not forget that the Parks Dept. turned operation of WSP over to a useless private conservancy. Since then, it has all gone down hill. Return WSP to a fully public park, then the mayor and Parks commissioner will be fully responsible for good or bad conditions there.

  4. Elizabeth Butson Elizabeth Butson August 25, 2022

    Good for you, Sugar! Well said.

    Bryant Park, which was a drug-infested disaster for many years, was cleaned up and is a wonderful space to visit today.

    It is time for all the city official “tops” to get together and seriously address this frightful situation at what is and must continue to be our historic and beautiful
    Washington Squsre Park!

    Elizabeth Butson,
    Former publisher of The Villager

    • Laurie Moody Laurie Moody August 25, 2022

      Yes! Well said, Sugar and Elizabeth!

  5. Peggy Friedman Peggy Friedman August 25, 2022

    Thank you, Sugar. I hope the Commissioner reads it and heeds it, although we know she is not the lone person who must jump into the fray.

    Peggy Friedman, Executive Director,
    Washington Square Music Festival

  6. mike cortez mike cortez August 25, 2022

    Well said and spoken for all of us. We need law and order. Let the police do their jobs and we would not have the mayhem we have witnessed over the past two years.

    • tiago tiago August 27, 2022

      i only see cops standing around like statues, even when, on the next street over, there are dozens of bicyclists breaking traffic laws. they dont do anything. you see cops driving past double parked vehicles all the time and not ticketing them. what is their job exactly?

  7. Starship Trooper Starship Trooper August 25, 2022

    I find your plea a legitimate one…as i live about 2.5 blocks from the park, used to go there every walk through when it is necessary …but i must say it is misguided.
    The Parks commissioner does not have the power to do anything

    Obviously, the Mayor, who is more interested, it seems, in becoming the latest political “celebrity” than doing his job, is the one “at the top”

    This is the same mayor that felt wearing a “stop gun violence “ coat to the Met Ball was a means of easing the situation.
    (how much did that cost, who paid for it?)

    This is the same mayor who, after he was in office for 4 months, took the D train one night, with his armed guards, and came to the conclusion the city is dangerous.
    Wow..i bet Curtis Sliwa knew that before the election (the city voted for the wrong guy) is the Mayor who is driving this city into the ground..
    Lets not loose site of that fact

    And next election…the city needs to use its head to vote
    We need a strong leader. Mayor Adams is NOT that guy.

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