Naming Rights for Washington Square Arch Not For Sale, Parks Dept. Says

By Andrea Swalec on October 4, 2013 6:34am 

 These posters were plastered throughout Greenwich Village starting in late September 2013, but a Parks Department official said they're inaccurate.
These posters were plastered throughout Greenwich Village starting in late September 2013, but a Parks Department official said they're inaccurate.
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Facebook/Save Our Village NYC

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Posters recently plastered around the Village claim the city is selling corporate naming rights to the Washington Square Arch, but the city Parks Department says no such plan exists.

The newly formed neighborhood group Save Our Village, which calls for the cultural preservation of the famous bohemian hub and new affordable housing, began posting dozens of fliers on blocks surrounding the park last week, a member said.

The notices showing the landmark covered with the logos of Citibank, McDonald's and Starbucks raised eyebrows this week, including on neighborhood blogs.

But the Parks Department called the claim "inaccurate."

"There’s no plans for any corporate naming rights in Washington Square Park," a spokesman told DNAinfo New York this week.

The city issued a request for proposals in June 2012 for business partnerships in 631 basketball courts and 55 dog runs in parks citywide. The dog runs in Washington Square Park are not part of this project, which officials said will bring the city $5 million a year.

Save Our Village made the posters to raise awareness about the risks of development destroying the character of the area, a group member said, describing himself as a filmmaker raised in the Village in the '70s and '80s and speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"We did this to show the trajectory of what is possible," he said, admitting he did not have evidence backing the posters' claim that "the city of New York is selling corporate naming rights to Washington Square Arch."

But he described the fliers as a way to mobilize residents to preserve the park's cultural heritage in the face of recent changes including the formation of the controversial Washington Square Park Conservancy. Many Village residents said this summer at a community meeting that they feared the conservancy's public-private partnership with the Parks Department would open the door to private interests seizing control of the public park.

The conservancy plans to provide supplemental gardening, sanitation and security services for the park — an agenda comedian and Village resident John Leguizamo publicly backed in June.

In addition to the flier campaign, Save Our Village, which has about 10 members, is in the early stages of discussing a Village "cultural revitalization festival" with musicians, artists and local businesses, the member said.

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