MANHATTAN — Uncertainty continued Friday in what’s become a messy situation at Washington Square Park, where a 10 p.m. curfew the last several weekends has led to chaos.
The NYPD told PIX11 News Friday that Washington Square Park would once again close at 10 p.m. Friday night — a curfew that’s become a source of contention in the surrounding Manhattan neighborhood.
But city officials said while the plan is tentative, they don’t anticipate closing the park early Friday night.
The New York City Parks Department’s press officer told PIX11 News the plan Friday evening was for the park to close at its normal hour — midnight.
“We continue to work with PD to find the right balance of education and enforcement against illegal and after hour activities that impact the park and the neighborhood. Enforced closures have been focused on addressing large after hours gatherings, amplified sound, excessive trashing of the park and other conditions on weekends,” said a parks department spokesperson, reiterating a frequent refrain from the department.
She also said hundreds of parks are closed daily throughout the city without issue.
The parks department and NYPD implemented a curfew inside the park after residents in the area complained about noise, partying and drug use.
Friday, an NYPD spokesperson told PIX11 News the closing time of the park was 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays due to a multitude of concerns, though the curfew will be “reviewed on an ongoing basis.”
“This decision [to implement the 10 p.m. curfew] was made following numerous concerns raised by residents related to noise, late night gatherings, drug use and other complaints,” an NYPD spokesperson said. “Additionally, the decision was made due to safety concerns following several recent incidents where large, and sometimes violent groups have refused to leave the park, and engaged in disorderly behavior. This behavior has included jumping on vehicles, making threats to officers, throwing objects such as bottles and other objects at police and in one instance throwing unknown objects at responding FDNY and EMT vehicles which were responding to a building.”
Officials previously said the park is expected to shut down at midnight Monday through Friday, while the weekend curfew would continue indefinitely.
Request for comment from the mayor’s office went unanswered Friday.
Greenwich Village residents around the park said they felt uncomfortable in the area because of an uptick in drug use in the park.
Susan Lee, who’s running to represent the area in the City Council, said drug use was a real issue in the neighborhood.
“There’s rampant drug dealing and drug use at the park and it’s really causing a public safety concern,” she said.
Drug users used to congregate in the northwest corner of the park, where barriers have since been installed, but they migrated to the center and southwest corner of the park, Lee said.
A city source said the parks department plans to increase programming in the northwest section of the park, adding that positive activities drive out negative ones; kids programming is set to be added, too.
There barriers will remain in place.
The weekend closures of Washington Square Park haven’t had consistent outcomes — at times, chaos ensued between first responders and those at the park, though at other times the park was closed without incident. The curfew has not been consistently enforced.
“I think we need more community policing. We need to find services for the drug users,” sLee said. “We just really need a new direction in our city government.”
PIX11’s Lauren Cook and Magee Hickey contributed.