By Steve Romano, MD
It is the character of youth to rebel, but what has been happening at night in Washington Square is not just the natural excess of youth but the abandoned behavior sometimes induced by substance abuse—public urination, defecation and partial nudity, and over the top resistance to police orders. What follows is a letter sent to me by a doctor which I read to the overflow crowd at a recent Police meeting addressing the situation (see page 3).
I and many of my friends and fellow residents of the West Village are at the end of our rope. I serve on the coop board of 136 Waverly Place West and have been a resident of the building for nearly 31 years. I’ve lived through some rough spots such as the crack days of the 90s, but I’ve never seen things as bad and as ominous as they are now. I’m a physician and pharmaceutical executive, and have enjoyed living in one of the more vibrant areas of NYC. But the criminal element (please don’t call them “homeless”—the majority have no interest in services) on my corner and the northwest corner of Washington Square Park is driving many of my neighbors out of the area and the city. We are losing longstanding members of the community and giving in completely to petty theft, vagrancy, drug dealing (on my corner and Gay Street behind a temporary boiler), and people urinating and defecating on our stoops. These are streets often full of pedestrians, residents and children attempting to go about their business.
Sadly, the police seem to do little (it certainly isn’t visible to me), and these screaming, fighting, alcohol and heroin addicts get to do whatever they want to do, and at all hours of the night. They scream, fight, and fornicate (yep—not kidding).
It is important to underscore that there is a component of people who are seriously psychiatrically ill. It’s despicable that this richest of cities does nothing to intervene meaningfully with this needy subset.
Bottom line, this has got to stop. I myself am close to moving and will gladly pay taxes somewhere where quality of life and criminal activities are taken seriously.
What can we do?