Monday, November 1, 2010

Residents Fight NYU Over Parkland Destruction

NYU plans to build new high rise classroom towers where Mercer Playground now stands.  Kids use the park for skateboarding and socializing year round, says advocate Terri Cude.
Mercer Playground was initiated by the Lower Manhattan Neighbors' Organization. NYU's current expansion plan includes tearing down two playgrounds, a community garden and a dog run and replacing them with skyscrapers. Local residents and Community Board 2 want the open space — which extend between W. Third and Houston Sts. — transferred to the Parks Department. N.Y.U. is hoping to add up to 1.5 million to 2 million square feet of space in its “campus core” around Washington Square, mainly by building two superblocks. Community residents are fighting back. Despite having an alternative location, NYU recently destroyed a row of more than a dozen trees along the same strip on Mercer street to build a co-generation power plant despite community objections.


Greenwich Village is telling New York University to park it - somewhere else.

Residents are pushing to have the ownership of three parcels of land transferred from the city Transportation Department to the Parks Department. The move, they hope, will keep the land from falling into the hands of NYU, which is eying them for potential expansion.

The parcels, located between W. Third and Houston Sts. and LaGuardia Place and Mercer St. are currently owned by the DOT. Community Board 2 has advocated unsuccessfully in the past that ownership be transferred to the Parks Department.

"Attempts were made in 1967, 1979, 1995 and at other times to remap city-owned parkland strips from the Department of Transportation to the Parks Department," said community activist Terri Cude at a recent Board 2 meeting. "NYU blocked the transfers each time."

Greenwich Village NYU Mercer Playground

Park and community advocates say Mercer Playground is one of the few safe places for neighborhood kids to learn how to ride bicycles and roller blade. The Parks Department maintains t Mercer Playground and Time Landscape and— yet all are under the jurisdiction of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).
(Photo: Courtesy Mercer Playground via DNAinfo)

This time, Village residents have mobilized, sending petitions to various city officials - including Mayor Bloomberg, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe - imploring the city to transfer control of the public spaces to the Parks Department.

If that happens, the Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and the Mercer-Houston Dog Run would be spared from NYU's expansion plans, which include the construction of new dormitories and a 40-story hotel and the remodeling of the Coles Sports Center.

But the university isn't showing signs of backing down. Lori Mazor, NYU associate vice president for planning and design, says the university plans to "take these blocks, that have a very interesting and complex history, and knit them back into the city."

According to the university's 2031 expansion plan, a large new green space will be created in the middle of the Mercer St./LaGuardia Place "super block," adjacent to where the Mercer Playground now sits.

The LaGuardia Corner Garden has been at it's current location at the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place since 1981. Neighbors of LaGuardia Place Park paid for landscaping and raised funds for a new toddler park themselves. Under NYU's plan, residents would also lose the Mercer-Houston Dog Run. (Photo: Elisabeth Robert/The Villager)

Read More:

New York Daily News - November 1, 2010 - By Michael Wursthorn

Residents want to protect park strips from NYU by bringing them under the purview of the Parks Department.
DNAinfo - October 22, 2010

A Walk In The Park - May 18, 2010

The Villager - June 23, 2010 - By Lincoln Anderson

The Villager - December 6, 2006 - By Albert Amateau

1 comment:

  1. Do you know when the construction is set to begin if the Parks Dept doesn't gain control?