Washington Square Park Bathrooms to Be Closed for a Year

By Andrea Swalec on July 2, 2012 4:35pm 

The restrooms in Washington Square Park are scheduled to be closed from late June 2012 through summer 2013, according to the city Parks Department.
The restrooms in Washington Square Park are scheduled to be closed from late June 2012 through summer 2013, according to the city Parks Department.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The city will open new restrooms in the Village's iconic Washington Square Park next year — but until then parkgoers have no place to go. 

The Parks Department closed the restrooms on the southern end of the park last week. A new "comfort station" won't open until next summer, the agency said. 

Park regulars — some of whom have complained about rampant drug use and sexual activity in the restrooms — said the closure of the bathrooms, which the Washington Square Park blog first reported, left them scrambling for relief. 

Actor Elena Burkova, 26, a Lower Manhattan resident who visits the park at least twice a week, asked directions for the nearest Starbucks to use the restroom on a recent visit to Washington Square. 

"People spend the whole afternoon here and they need someplace to go," she said. 

Paul "Birdman" Zig, the Village resident famous for being a perch for dozens of the city's pigeons, called the park's restrooms "gross," but he also said they were necessary as a last resort. 

"Over there I don't go," said Zig, a 51-year-old retired Persian rug repairman. "It's not safe. I go to Starbucks or the McDonald's instead. But they should still be open."

Jean Shum, a Lower East Side resident and regular photographer of Washington Square Park's hawks, said the city needed to install portable toilets. 

"[The Parks Department] has got to have something," she said. "Where are people supposed to go?" 

Portable toilets will be made temporarily available, a Parks Department spokeswoman said. Their installation date was not immediately clear. 

The new facilities will cost $6.5 million to build and are scheduled to open in "summer 2013," the spokeswoman said. 

They will include men's and women's facilities with handicap access, a family bathroom and a drinking fountain. 

The city will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for them in recognition of their environment-friendly features. 

As DNAinfo.com New York first reported, the Parks Department cut short the restrooms' hours in September amid reports that people had sex, used drugs and bathed in them. 

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