Saturday, February 28, 2015

Homeless Man In Coma After Being Attacked In Highland Park


By Geoffry Croft

Illegal drinking in a Brooklyn Park turned horribly violent on Friday night NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

A 45-year-old homeless man is in a coma after being viciously beaten by four other homeless men in Highland Park.

The victim got into a verbal altercation that turned violent according to police who say the men were intoxicated. 

The incident occured at 5:30 p.m. in the park near the northwestern corner of Essex St. & Jamiaca Avenue, 

Four hours later at approximalty 9:45,  911 received call about a person complaining of pain. 

EMS rushed the victim to Brookdale University Hospital where he fell into a coma early Saturday. 

No arrests have been made but four suspects were taken into custody for questioning.   

No charges have been filed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fashion Week Packs Its Bags While Community Waits For Park Restitution Plan

February 22, 2015.  Coming Soon - A Public Park.  Fashion Week, and other events like this are now prohibited from returning to Damrosch Park according to the far-reaching court ordered settlement reached in December.  The park, much of it destroyed to make way for private events, must also be restored.   The defendants however have not produced several key court mandated items required under the agreement. The Parks Department and Lincoln Center were supposed to appear on Monday night at CB 7's Parks Committee meeting but the item was removed from the agenda because the city and the arts group were not ready.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge 

February 19, 2015. Damrosch Park Convention Center.  For years the Bloomberg administration allowed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) to rent out the entire 2.4 acre Damrosch Park to various private clients including Fashion Week (above) which they did for up ten months of the year.   These actions constituted an illegal alienation of Damrosch Park in violation of the New York State Public Trust Doctrine and other laws.     

"IMG Fashion Week shall vacate the premises and remove all tents and other Fashion Week equipment from the park," according to the settlement, which was ordered by Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan.


By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday marked the last day that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week could ever be held in Damroach Park.   

Since then crews have been dismantling the massive tents that have illegally occupied the 2.4 acre public park for the past 5 years.

The runway exodus did not come voluntarily. It is part of a settlement agreement reached with the de Blasio administration after area residents and environmental groups were forced to sue in order to get the park back.

The semiannual function was part of a series of private events that Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts (LCPA) was allowed to host in a deal it struck with the Bloomberg administration.   Lincoln Center had been renting out the park for private events for up ten months of the year.  They are also allowed to keep the money and divert it from the City's General Fund.   

On Thursday people filed into the Fashion Week tents in Damroach Park for the last time. 

By Sunday an aluminum frame was all that remained from the main entrance to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week located at Damrosch Park's Northeast side. 

Private events in Damrosch Park will now be the exception not the rule according to the far-reaching settlement reached in December between plaintiffs. 

In May 2013 plaintiffs, including NYC Park Advocates, Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, the founder of Friends of Damrosch Park and other individual neighborhood park users were forced to sue over the illegal use of Damrosch Park for non-park purposes in an effort to restore the park and return it back to the community.

One clueless fashion designer,  Nicole Miller, speculated a few days ago that the controversy was over area residents not being able to get taxis.

While the tents are being permanently removed plaintiffs and community representatives are still waiting for the Parks Department and Lincoln Center to comply with several key issues in the stipulation agreement more than two months after it was signed in December. 

• LCPA was supposed to provide CB7 and Plaintiffs with a copy of its annual January submission to the Parks Department listing proposed special events in Damrosch Park.  To date nothing has been received. 

• Planning for the Landscape Plan was supposed to begin in January 2015 but that has not been done as Lincoln Center is still looking for a landscape contractor.   LCPA and the Parks Department  are required to consult with and solicit comments from the Community Board prior to the spring 2015 planting season. During this period, LCPA will also, as part of its overall community relations program, consult with and solicit comments from a range of community organizations in the Lincoln Center neighborhood as well as with the plaintiff organizations, CESD and NYCPA.

The Parks Department and Lincoln Center were supposed to appear at Monday night's CB7's Parks Committee meeting but the item was removed from the agenda because the city and the arts group were not ready.  The reason -  Lincoln Center is still looking for a landscape contractor - three months after the settlement agreement. 

Over the weekend crews began dismantling the massive tents that illegally occupied Damroach Park for the past 5 years. 

Neighborhood groups are supposed to have meaningful input before spring planting begins, to date this has not occurred.  The next Parks Committee meeting is on March 16th.

"I am concerned any delays will leave planters with makeshift plantings thereby allowing for ongoing abuse by trailers and tents next season,"  said plaintiff Cleo Dana of Friends of Damrosch Park.

•  Under the terms of the settlement Lincoln Center will also be required to produce the secret  "sublicense" agreement between Fashion Week and Lincoln Center which lays out the financial arrangements. Lincoln Center received a $ 17.2 million dollar payday over five years which was diverted from the City General Fund.

•  As per the Stipulation Agreement LCPA was supposed to provide a cell number of an emergency contact person who would immediately respond to complaints in Damrosch Park. That never happened either.

A Fordham University student said that sound from Fashion Week could be heard throughout the dorms.

Cleo Dana said the noise on opening day of Fashion Week on Thursday, February 12th was deafening.

"The decibel level was outrageous." she said.  "My China was rattling on my table on the 26th floor a block away.  And as usual residents had no recourse.  It makes sense that they would have provided (the contact) before the event, but they didn't. These people don't care." 

Past complaints including noise,  illegal parking,  idling trucks,  and park destruction were routinely blown off by city officials.  

"When I complained in the past I was told it was a Mayor's event, parks rules do not apply," she said. 

"Neighbors are tired of calling 311and the 20th precinct with no results. I longer call 311, it's  a waste of time."

For weeks Cleo has been pressing various Parks Department officials to get answers, but those efforts have been fruitless.  

No more Mercedes-Benz allowed in the park. 

Attendees of Fashion Week in the seized parkland. 

On February 4th she wrote to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver's Chief of staff Margaret Nelson.  Nelson represented the Parks Department at a City Hall meeting between plaintiffs and defendants in December where she identified herself as "our future liaison contact," Dana said. 

Cleo wrote Nelson saying that she attended a Community Board 7 meeting weeks ago to inquire about the status of outstanding issues regarding the settlement agreement. At the meeting CB 7’s Parks Committee Chairman , Klari Neuwelt, assured her that, as per Plaintiffs’ request,  the “Landscape Plan” will be on the Committee’s Feb. 23rd Agenda. 

She asked Silver's chief of staff to "Kindly confirm that the Plan will be presented," along with providing Lincoln Center’s proposed special events for 2015. 

A couple of days later, on February 6th  Nelson responded saying,   "I will look into these requests and get back to you next week." 

She never did. 

A few days later Steve Simon, Chief of Staff for Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro called to say that Lincoln Center was “looking” for a landscape contractor and would not be able to present at the February 23 Parks Committee meeting.  

"The Plaintiffs and the community are understandably disappointed that two months after our Settlement Agreement, Lincoln Center is still looking to hire a Landscape Consultant," Cleo wrote to Steve Simon.

"We had assumed that Lincoln Center would present the preliminary mandated “Landscape Plan” at the February Community Board 7 Parks Committee meeting so that Plaintiffs and community organizations could have meaningful “input” before the forthcoming planting season.  As Fashion Week packs up for good, we need to know that serious planting will commence this spring to cover the rubble and barren planters left behind;  temporary cosmetic ”flowering plants”  as in past summers which can then be covered over by trailers and tents later in the year are not acceptable.

May I remind you that the Community Board has not yet received a "copy of its annual January submission to the Parks Department listing proposed special events in Damrosch Park for the coming calendar year” as also stipulated in our Settlement Agreement."

Dispite several requests seeking comment the Mayor's press office refused to acknowledge the requests and the Parks Department press office said they were too busy. 

Sign of the Times. 

February 19, 2015.  The Parks Department owned parking garage that Lincoln Center keeps 100% of the proceeds from remains covered from the tents.   

February 22, 2015.

The skeleton remains of Fashion Week are revealed as crews break down the tents.

The park's lone sign provided support to a Fashion Week tent.  On Sunday a worker leaned on it while colleagues removed equipment from the event.

 (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge 

Read More:

Fashion Week Ordered To Leave Lincoln Center - Park To Be Restored In Lawsuit Settlement  
A Walk In The Park - December 18, 2014 - By Geoffrey Croft

WABC - December 18, 2014 - By Tim Fleischer 

New York Daily News - December 18, 2014 -  By Barbara Ross 

New York Post - December 18, 2014 - By Natalie O'Neill and Julia Marsh 

New York Times - December 18, 2014 - By Robin Pogrebin   

Associated Press - December 18, 2014 -  By Leanne Italie  

Crain's New York Busness - December 18, 2014 - By Adrianne Pasquarelli 

AM New York - December 18, 2014 - By Ivan Pereira 

Metro NY - December 18, 2014

CNBC -  December 18, 2014 - By Krystina Gustafson

 New York Magazine -  December 18, 2014 - By VĂ©ronique Hyland 

gothamist - December 18, 2014 - Rebecca Fishbein  

 The Hollywood Reporter - December 18, 2014 - By Stephanie Chan

 WNBC - December 18, 2014

A Walk In The Park -  May 22, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park February 15, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - February 6, 2012

A Walk In The Park - September 10, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - September 11, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

NY State Court of Appeals Agrees to Hear Case Against NYU Park Alienation Expansion Plan

NYU 2031 Plan

The state’s highest court,  the Court of Appeals, has agreed to hear arguments regarding NYU's Greenwich Village massive expansion plan.  Plaintiffs are seeking to protect four park parcels that NYU is planning to build on as part of its  $6 billion, 20-year plan.

Last January Manhattan Supreme Justice Donna Mills ruled that the City, "alienated public parkland without approval by the New York State legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine.” The decision would have spared three of the four parks plaintiffs are seeking to protect —Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens—from destruction under NYU’s current expansion plan.  Under that ruling construction could not have begun until the Legislature authorized the removal of the park space.  In January NYU said they were going to appeal. 

On October 14th, the Appellate Division’s First Department overturned the lower court’s decision, ruling in NYU's favor. 

Plaintiffs are hoping to get a better outcome than last years disastrous Court of Appeals Union Square Park ruling. 

"Park advocacy" group New Yorkers For Parks supported the city and developer in both alienation cases. 

- Geoffrey Croft


NY State Court of Appeals Agrees to Hear Case Against NYU Expansion Plan;
Could Save Village Parks From Destruction, Affect Countless Parks and Open Spaces in the City and State; Actor and Activist Ruffalo Lauds Court’s Acceptance of Case, Warns Earlier Decision Must Be Overturned or Have Disastrous Implications for Public Commons

In the latest installment of the ongoing struggle against NYU’s huge expansion plan, the State's highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, has agreed to hear a case that was filed by petitioners in mid-November regarding public parkland, according to a press release put out by plaintiffs.

The lawsuit has passed through two lower courts, with differing results. Those following the dispute, especially park advocates, are awaiting a verdict that could have massive ramifications on the way that the City and the State deal with public parks in the future.

On October 14th, the Appellate Division’s First Department overturned a lower court’s decision that would have spared three parks—Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens—from destruction under NYU’s current expansion plan. According to the lower court’s ruling, all three strips are public parks, and therefore entitled to protection, since the public has been using them as parks for many years, making them “implied” parkland, with the City funding, labeling and maintaining them as parks.

NYU and the City counter-argued that those parks aren't really parks, since they were never "mapped" as parks (a bureaucratic technicality), and are nominally overseen by the City's Department of Transportation. The First Department’s decision would allow NYU to raze those treasured parks to make way for its vast expansion plan, and set a precedent that could potentially threaten countless public parks throughout the City and the State.
Petitioners, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Historic Districts Council,Washington Square Village Tenants’ Association, East Village Community Coalition, Friends of Petrosino Square, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc., Lower Manhattan Neighbors’ Organization, SoHo Alliance, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, NoHo Neighborhood Association, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and 10 other individuals, are represented on a pro bono basis by the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, with Randy Mastro as lead attorney. 

Their motion papers make clear that “the First Department’s decision disregarded well-established common law principles for determining when municipal land has been impliedly dedicated for parks usage.  In recognition of the unique value that public parks hold for children, families, and communities, the Public Trust Doctrine accords parkland special protection.”

“We’re glad that the Court of Appeals agrees that this case is important. These parks have been a vital part of the Greenwich Village community’s daily life for decades. Not only do we want to save these parks from NYU’s reckless, unnecessary expansion, but we want to do the same for the parks that will be threatened elsewhere if the lower court’s decision stands,” said Andrew Ross, Urbanist and Director of American Studies Program at NYU.

The petitioners are asking the Court of Appeals to consider two issues: that the First Department’s decision actually conflicts with prior appellate court decisions, and prior decisions by the Court of Appeals itself, about this kind of “implied” parkland, and that the First Department’s decision, if left intact, will have the effect of abolishing implied dedication—a consequence with widespread negative effects, not just in New York City, but throughout the State.
Parks and open spaces are protected by the Public Trust Doctrine, which maintains that the government holds the titles to certain waters and lands in trust for the people. In New York State, if an entity wishes to develop or remove a parcel of parkland from public ownership and use, it must follow a legal process called “alienation,” which, among other conditions, requires approval from the state Legislature. This was not done in the case of the Village parks that NYU wants to destroy for its ill-advised expansion plan. The First Department’s decision flies in the face of this doctrine and of its own decisions, and would imperil all kinds of public and green spaces throughout the state; it would leave ordinary New Yorkers with no protection against the removal and abuse of open spaces and parks for development.

“We understand that the battle is not yet over, but we appreciate that the Court of Appeals grasps the gravity of the situation. If these parks can be handed off to NYU in spite of the Public Trust Doctrine, it sets a terrible precedent, and the outcome for similar cases is bleak,” continued Ross.

Professor Mark Crispin Miller, President of NYUFASP, said, “Green spaces like these parks play an imperative role in keeping New York livable. We hope that the Court of Appeals overturns the First Department’s decision before it can do irreparable harm to the Public Trust Doctrine. Without the legal protection that provides, we could lose countless other City and State parks to greedy speculators like NYU.”

“These public parks have been a vital part of the Village for decades, and they have benefitted the public in numerous ways. Without the Court of Appeals’ intervention, not only will they be given to a private corporation for its own financial gain, but such a thing could become a common and unremarkable occurrence throughout New York,” said actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo.

Read More:

Wall Street Journal -  February 24, 2015 - By Mike Vilensky

By Bloomberg News - February 24, 2015

New York Law Journal - February 25, 2015 - By Joel Stashenko

NYU Expansion Foes Take Fight To Top NY Court
New York Post - February 24, 2015 - By Julia Marsh    

NYULocal - February 24, 2015 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Central Park: Free Ice Skating On Pond Returns! Other Boroughs Not So Lucky

Bring Your Own Skates.  Tim Davey and son Vann, 5, play hockey on the Conservatory Water in Central Park, the park system's only free outdoor ice skating pond available to the public.    With icy temperatures expected to return beginning next week after a brief respite,  the pond is expected to be frozen over for the immediate future.   Ice skating was the first activity in Central Park when it opened in 1858,  twelve years before the park was completed.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge)


By Geoffrey Croft  

One of the most delightful, and free, winter fun activities is to skate outdoors among nature.

And for those who have their own ice skates — or are able to borrow them –  a little slice of winter heaven exists in Central Park.

As the public knows ice skating is strictly prohibited on the Parks Department's numerous waterbodies due to safety concerns and for good reason:  the risk of falling through the ice and getting hurt or worse is also too real. 

Each season one park prepares for the possibility that winter just might get cold enough to allow skating on one of its ponds.  

This is the year.

For the past several weeks the public has been quietly using the park's famed model/sail boat pond near 73rd street near Fifth Avenue to ice skate.

The Conservatory Water,  as it is officially known,  is normally 3 to 4 feet but each year the Central Park Conservancy cleans the pond and, borrowing a page from the past,   drains the water to a depth of 1 foot in the winter months in order to facilitate a solid and safe bed of ice.  (The Parks Department requires the ice be at least 6 inches deep to allow skating)     

The Conservancy also builds a wooden ramp so people can access the pond.

This week Tim Davey and his son Vann, 5 1/2,  enthusiastically cleared the snow covered surface with a broom and shovel so they could play.   

"I saw a couple of people out here the other day,  it was news to me that you could even do this," said Mr. Davey, a father of three who lives a few blocks way. 

"It was great, we were loving it.  We loved shoveling off the snow to make our own hockey rink," he said. 

After a large enough section was cleared an impromptu pick up hockey game broke out that included Maxy,  14 a student from the UN School, and Emmet, a 10- year-old visiting from  southern California.   While walking with his mom Emmet saw the action, borrowed a broom and made his way onto the smooth ice wearing sneekers and began playing goalie.

For Tim's son Vann it was the first time he played stick and puck. 

"He didn't want to leave after four and a half hours, he was having a great time."

Even his 2-year-old daughter Teagan made an appearance on skates. 

Two nearby concessions stands serve hot chocolate and snacks.  

On February 6th, the Conservancy tweeted out: RARE OPPORTUNITY! Conservatory Water OPEN this w/e for skating!! BYO skates. Ice not groomed. Do NOT go on any other frozen waterbody!!!

Up in Crotona Park in the Bronx, the situation is quite different.

Although Indian Lake was also built for the same activities as in Central Park  the once popular ice skating activities and lake boat rentals were abandoned many decades ago.  

Several garbage cans are embedded into the ice at Indian Lake in Crotona Park, once a popular ice skating destination in the Bronx.

With no dedicated maintenance staff the impacts are obvious. Several garbage cans tossed into the pond remain frozen in the water. Several bright red wooden ice rescue ladders are littered on the snowy landscape. 

The red brick Parks Department building that replaced the wooden warning huts for skating is still there but no such programs are offered.  Today Park Rangers have to shoo kids away from the dangerous icy waters. 

Sign Of The Times.

During the Bloomberg administration the Parks Department established  "safe skating" sites throughout the five boroughs.  

A Parks Department spokesman said there are no plans to establish such sites this winter.

Free outdoor skating options in the city's parks are basically non-existent today, but that wasn't always the case.  

Skating in Central Park for instance has a long and storied past.   One of the first parts of the park to open to the public was the skating pond, now called The Lake, in the winter of 1858-1859, twelve years before the park was completed.   The Lake was actually designed to accommodate this activity in the winter, and for boating in the summer. 

In order to help ensure proper skating conditions, and safety, The Lake was designed so it could be drained to a level that helped ensure that the would ice froze every year. The 20-acre water body was labeled on park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original Greensward plan as a "skating pond." This was the park's first recreational activity when the park opened and it immediately attracted parkgoers in droves.

Long before Zambonis people swept the ice to make it clear for skating.  There were ice skating warming “huts” along water’s edge where park patrons could leave their shoes while skating.  Parks Department workers would raise the flag to indicate it was safe to skate. 

Skating competitions were a popular attraction.     

According to the Central Park Conservancy when Central Park first opened more people came in the winter than in any other season….largely to skate.

Today some have a hard time orienting themselves when they see the iconic late 19th century photos of the throngs of people skating on the Lake with the famous Dakota building towering alone on Central Park West in the background. 

The iconic photographs of ice skating in Central Park (1898) with the Dakota building (1884) in the then non-existent skyline along Central Park West. The Lake was designed to so it could be drained to a level that would ensure public safety as well so it could freeze each year.  

Agnes Tait’s Skating in Central Park, 1934. The Pond (59th Street and Fifth Avenue) and The Lake (W.72nd Street) were very popular locations for ice skating in Central Park. 

But Central Park was hardly the only spot.  Tens of thousands of people once flocked annually to skating sites that once dotted the park system. The city built concession stands for skaters as well as for those who used the ice for other winter activities such as curling, yes curling! 

In the Bronx skating sites included Van Cortlandt Park and Crotona Park. 

"During the winter when the lake was thick enough to support skaters,  "Parkee" Solomon,  would raise the flag (a red ball on a white field) near the boathouse to indicate that skating was permissible," Daniel Wolfe writes. 

"Whenever that flag was up, homework was benched. I would grab my skates, dash across Boston Road,  pass P.S. 61,  round the corner at Charlotte Street,  pass the playground on my left and run to the Indian Lake in Crotona Park."

Curling, Van Cortlandt Park, New York

Brooklyn sites included McCarren Park, Prospect Park, Sunset Park, and Commodore Barry Park. 

The Brooklyn Parks Department annual report of 1920 notes that in Prospect Park, the Boat House was converted to a Skate House which also offered coffee and snacks, the Parks Department notes.  

Today the Prospect Alliance has been allowed to seize the historic building and rents it out for private parties.   In 2014 the Alliance raked in $346,210 for 68 parties, records show. The landmark building, renovated with millions in taxpayer funds, was closed to the public on weekends starting in April 2013.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Court To Hear Citi Bike Petrosino Square Appeal

"The trial court erred in failing to acknowledge the distinctions between recreational bicycling and bike-share commuting, which, though similar in instrumentality, serve completely different purposes." - Plaintiffs

July 2012. Aren't Communities Supposed To Have A Say?  Admirers photograph Carole Feuerman’s Survival of Serena an exhibition in the artist space located at the northern part of Petrosino Square on Lafayette Street and Cleveland Pl. between Kenmare & Spring Streets at the intersection of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.  Before the City surreptitiously installed a Citi Bike docking station in Petrosino Square in the middle of the night on April  27, 2013  the park space had been dedicated to art installations since 1985.  


By Geoffrey Croft

The City's 1st Dept., Appellate Division will hear oral arguments tomorrow on whether or not using public parkland to install a Citi Bike docking station is a legitimate park use.   

On April  27, 2013 the Department of Transportation installed a 32-dock Citi Bike docking station on the northern tip of Petrosino Square,  a Parks Department owned property, over the objections of the community.  The installation blocked a popular artist exhibition space in the tiny city park and took away a 1/3 of the park's length.  According to the Parks Department,  Petrosino Square, formerly known as Kenmare Square, was one of the most programmed parks in the city  for art with 35 exhibitions of temporary public art since 1985. 

Plaintiffs filed suit in 2013 arguing that the city ignored state "parkland alienation" law and its own regulations when they installed Citi Bike racks in tiny Petrosino Square, a Parks Department owned property on  Lafayette Street in SoHo.  Corporation Council had absurdly tried to argue that the Square belonged to the Department of Transportation. 

The suit alleged that the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department improperly failed to get necessary approval from the state Legislature to use parkland for a non-park purpose.

A 32-dock Citi Bike docking station replaced the art area in Petrosino Square on April 27th in the middle of the night over the strong objections of the community.  

State Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern ruled in favor of the city but also acknowledged that it was a public park. 

The appeal will be heard tomorrow at 1st Dept., Appellate Division - at  27 Madison Avenue at 2:00.  

Plaintiffs are reasserting that the Bike Share Program and Kiosks are specifically designed to facilitate transportation, not recreation and are therefore not a legitmate park use.

"The short rental period, fee structure, and functional, uncomfortable build of the Program’s bikes all demonstrate that its design goal is transportation, not recreation," court papers state.

"The trial court erred in failing to acknowledge the distinctions between recreational bicycling and bike-share commuting, which, though similar in instrumentality, serve completely different purposes."

City lawyers argue that legislative approval wasn't necessary because the docking station is a recreational use for park-goers. 


According to the Parks Department's own rules bike riding is prohibited in Petrosino Square.   

Section §1-05 Regulated Uses states that, "No bicycle...shall be ridden or otherwise operated in a pedestrian way, park path, sitting area..."

"This is not a legitimate park purpose for Petrosino Square. It's an outrageous violation of law," said Randy Mastro, Gibson Dunn's senior managing partner who is representing the plaintiffs.

"You can ride bikes in public parks, but you can't ride bikes in Petrosino Square. You can't alienate precious parkland for a purpose that has nothing to do with park uses at that park," he said.

"Under their own rules, bike riding is not permitted in pedestrian walkways like Petrosino Square. The fact that the Parks Commissioner made an exception speaks volumes about how they ignored the law here," said Mastro, who served as Chief of Staff and then New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Operations under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

There are no signs indicating that bike riding is permitted in Petrosino Square which would be required under law. 

The community has been trying to get the city to relocate the station to the roadbed a few feet away (east side of Lafayette north of Spring) so the space could once again be used for public art installations.  The suggested relocation site had the support of areas residents,  all of the area elected officials, the  community board,  and FDNY Battalion Chief Ed Kiernan, according to Georgette Fleischer. 

"This principle is particularly compelling in a case like this one which has to do with the sanctity of public parkland as protected by the Public Trust Doctrine.

This is not a park for bicycle riding," she said.

"I want everyone to know how significant culture is in this neighborhood- high and low culture, a depot is a function not a piece of culture," said artist Minerva Durham who has lived in the area for 34 years.  

"The ads on the bikes and the kiosk are inappropriate for park space.  I personally feel unsafe while walking daily through the park. I am 76 years old and I walk with a cane. Cyclists speed by me from behind in a hurry to get their bikes parked," she said, noting she has never owned a car and used bikes for most of her life.

Durham's Spring Studio has been hosting outdoor drawing sessions in Petrosino Square for two years to protest the presence of a bike depot in the park.

"The community was not listened to. There is a disrespect for neighborhoods. 

I'm so angry, I can't bear it, that's why I write." 

The Parks Department wasn't immediately available for comment.

For years the community fought to improve Petrosino Square which was finally renovated.    (Photo:  Georgette Fleischer/Friends of Petrosino Square)  

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - October 15, 2013  - By Geoffrey Croft 

 A Walk In The Park - May 28, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park - December 3, 2012 - By Geoffey Croft