A Tale Of 2 Parks: Drugs Plague Washington Square Park; Privately-Run Bryant Park Is Squeaky Clean
A stark contrast is observable between several parks run by the City of New York and one that is not.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio likes to talk about a tale of two cities. But CBS2 found a tale of two park systems.
At Washington Square Park on Friday, CBS2’s Kramer found the ground littered with discarded glassine envelopes that used to contain nickel bags of drugs, and a bunch of people occupying the northwest corner of the park that residents said has become an open-air drug den.
“I called 911 yesterday for somebody who was OD’ing; shaking; unconscious,” said Sarah Calderon of the West Village.
The drug deals, the vagrants, and the need to avoid that part of the park are what New Yorkers have to deal with when they take their kids to play on the swings or just seek a leafy, cool place to read a book, Kramer reported.
“Everybody knows, if you’re from New York, that the drugs are in a specific corner of the park – which is over there,” said parkgoer Keith Aronowitz.
It is little better uptown at another city-run facility, Madison Square Park, where CBS2 found a man urinating on the sidewalk and a vagrant rummaging through the trash for his next meal.
Compare all that to Bryan Park, with its vibrant activity centers, a putting green, a lending library, and a carousel. Bryant Park is run by a private corporation – managed that way through the efforts of a local business district that believes a good park brings business.
“All these things bring lots of people into the park who discourage bad guys from taking over those areas,” said Dan Biederman, director of the Bryant Park Corporation.
Back at Washington Square Park, things were so bad Friday that the NYPD had to send in a special squad of officers following reports that the drug dealing had gotten out of hand.
At Bryant Park, there is no horsing around when it comes to security. The park has its own private security force that walks the paths 24/7.
Meanwhile, Kramer reported it was interesting to watch what happened when the NYPD did arrive at Washington Square Park on Friday. The alleged drug dealers fled.
And while the mothers with their children at the park were happy, others were not. Keith Lindsey told CBS2’s Kramer he is a “retired drug dealer.”
“For what reason are they coming here messing with people?” Lindsey said. “Like I said, they’ve got two women that got raped over there the other day, and they’re here messing with small time drug dealers? They’ve got to be out of their minds!”
The people reportedly selling the drugs said they will return once the heat is off.
The NYPD reported that during the first three months of the year, Washington Square Park and Bryant Park each had two arrests for grand larceny. The NYPD made no drug arrests in Washington Square Park during that time.