Washington Square Park, New York
In December 2007 the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began construction on a US$16 million project to redesign and refurbish Washington Square Park. Changes to the park's design include the realignment of the central fountain with the arch, a replacement of the existing perimeter fence with a taller iron fence, and the flattening and shrinking of the central plaza. Controversially, the plan calls for the cutting down of dozens of mature trees and the reinstitution of ornamental water plumes in the fountain – changes opponents worry will undermine the park's current informal character.
So far, five lawsuits have been filed challenging the Parks Department's renovation plans. A 2005 suit was withdrawn by the petitioners as premature. In July 2006, New York County Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman enjoined any renovation work on the fountain or fountain plaza area, pending further review of the plans by the local community board, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Art Commission, stating that the Parks Department misrepresented the project in order to secure its approval; but this decision was reversed on appeal. Another lawsuit challenging the Art Commission's approval of the plan was dismissed. Two more lawsuits questioning the environmental review of the renovation project were heard in 2007 by the New York County Supreme Court, then dismissed. On the first night of construction the Open Washington Square Park Coalition, a community group opposing the construction, held a candlelight vigil by the arch. Community members continue to criticize the movement of the fountain, as it is still not directly aligned with 5th avenue.
Upon the completion of the park's renovation in 2009, the Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park, a private organization, began raising money to "hire off-duty cops and maintenance workers to patrol the Park" by the summer of 2010.