The feathers are flying over plans to put a restaurant in the Union Square Park pavilion. The Villager is all over it: The Parks Department has been planning to put a new "seasonal" restaurant and expand the current playground. But critics don't want the restaurant plan at all and want a new playground immediately. Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates said, “This community has just two playgrounds, the fewest of any neighborhood in the entire city."

Union Square Community Council member Jack Taylor is also concerned about plans to put trees in the north plaza of the park, noting that the north end is an area for protests, rallies and Critical Mass. He told the Villager, “This is our Place de la Concorde, our Trafalgar Square, our Piazza del Popolo. It should not be beautified by rose trees or fancy paving.” Here was Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe's response:

The planned renovation of the north end of Union Square Park will complete the restoration of the park that started in 1984. The project, a public-private collaboration with the Union Square Partnership, has already been approved twice by Community Board 5 and also by the New York City Art Commission, and we are completing the working drawings so we can begin construction next year. The project will add a state-of-the-art playground — triple the size of the current one — with a new, handicapped-accessible public restroom. The seasonal public cafe will move inside the restored historic pavilion, freeing up outdoor space for the playground. Finally, the North Plaza will be rebuilt to provide a first-class public space for the Greenmarket, events and rallies. This project is a huge win for all the constituents of Union Square Park, one of the busiest and liveliest public spaces in the world.”

Hmm, what would you choose? A playground or a restaurant - is the Parks Department being too greedy or taking advantage of location? There are more than enough restaurants in that neighborhood, but who doesn't love al fresco dining? We suppose the sad faces of children in a crowded playground would make us lose our appetite.

Photograph of the Pillow Fight earlier this year from bbbustard