If you find yourself craving a hot dog in Washington Square Park come New Year's Day, you may have to look elsewhere.
A private conservancy group intent on replacing "unsightly" hot dog stands with higher-end food options has succeeded in convincing the Parks Department to ban purveyors of frankfurters from the space starting Jan. 1.
Several dozen food vendors and residents gathered in the park on Sunday to protest what they called the "privatization of public spaces."
"We call on Mayor de Blasio, who attended New York University, Inc., to halt private, corporate and real estate interests from digging their claws deeper into Washington Square Park," the group's Facebook event description said.
The event was a group effort organized by the Street Vendor Project and community members mobilized by Cathryn Swan, the scribe behind the Washington Square Park Blog. The hyperlocal site was the first to break the story about the efforts of the recently incorporated conservancy, which Swan describes as "a private, affluent group of women being given decision-making power unbeknownst to the public."
"Cathryn published it on her blog and then we said let's do something about it, so she brought some people from the neighborhood and we brought some of our members," said Sean Basinski, the Street Vendor Project's founder. "We're going to keep up the pressure until the parks department lets these people stay."
Several immigrant vendors protested the eviction with placards in English, Arabic and Spanish. Other activists brandished signs with a message for the Parks Department: "Don't be a weenie!"
“I will miss this spot,” 35-year-old Moon Mohammad, who has sold hot dogs in the park for three years, told the New York Post last week. “If I move outside the park, I’ll make hundreds less [a week]. It affects my business.”
The Washington Square Park Conservancy, whose board of directors includes celebrity chef Mario Batali, describes itself as "not for profit organization working with the New York City Parks Department and neighborhood groups to ensure that Washington Square Park continues as a diverse and historical urban green space through engaging volunteers and raising funds to keep the park clean, safe and beautiful."