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Judge Puts The Brakes On Washington Square Park Renovation Project

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Plans to renovate Washington Square Park are on hold after a State Supreme Court judge ruled the city didn’t adequately inform the public about proposed changes.

The decision means the Parks Department will have to resubmit its plans for approval, including plans to add a 45-foot water spray to its fountain.

The $16 million project, which has already been two years in the making, was slated to begin this summer. But some Greenwich Village residents took legal action, saying their input during public meetings was not taken into consideration. They say they are pleased with the ruling.

"This park is just as historic and means just as much to New York City as the Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium, the Apollo, Statue of Liberty," said one resident. "To me, this is one of those landmarks that should not be touched."

The rejected changes included erecting a fence around the parks perimeter and moving the centerpiece fountain more than 20 feet to align it with the park's signature arch, a proposal that many park regulars felt was way out of line.

"Moving the fountain as a claim to a brand new marvelous, wonderful design is really not an accurate depiction," said one park goer.

Many local resident say that the park does need some sprucing up, but they say there's a difference between that and getting carried away

"I'd like them to clean up, resurface, put in new benches, do everything they should do to get this park functioning properly. But what they want to do is just make it a showplace," said one resident.

The judge’s ruling means the Parks Department will have to present the plans to the local community board.

The city argues that there was plenty of community involvement in the design process.

In a statement, Christopher Reo of the City Law Department said, "we believe that the court's ruling is erroneous, because it ignores the fact that the Parks Department's renovation plan for Washington Square Park has been the result of more than two years of public outreach and input."

The city also says it is looking into its legal options and may appeal the decision, further postponing the start of construction.
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