Update from Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing Coming !

Check back for my report back from today’s Landmarks Preservation Commission Meeting (Part II) on Washington Square Park

Updated: I’m still working on my writing project and so the blog will be updated most likely bi-weekly until it’s done! Always Mondays. After that, it’s a bit random.  But please check back … there are things I hear about that just call out to be written up as blog entries.  Thus, they will appear here.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Resumes Discussion on Phase II of NYC’s Redesign Plans for Washington Square Park on Tuesday, April 14th

Updated…

On Tuesday, April 14th, 11:15 a.m., the Landmarks Preservation Commission resumes discussion on Washington Square Park and whether to approve Phase II of the NYC Park’s Department’s Plans.

For a recap of what happened at the public hearing on March 17th at which the LPC decided they needed to schedule another meeting to discuss and review the Parks Department’s controversial plans, see previous WSP Blog entry here.

If you’d like to attend, they suggest arriving 10:30 a.m. Update: there will be no public testimony this time around. (I’m not sure if it’s necessary to be there so early if there is no public testimony.)

Location: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre Street @ Chambers, 9th floor, Manhattan

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, J, M, Z (Centre-Chambers Streets, City Hall-Brooklyn Bridge stops)

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Some other news: I heard from NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe again. More on that in the next few days.

New Blog Posts Return Monday!

Just a reminder: new WSP Blog entries return Monday, April 13th!

See you then –

Cathryn.

Save The Pavilion – Come to Union Square Wednesday, April 8th 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Union Square Not for Sale is reaching out to NY City Council Member Rosie Mendez — whose district includes Union Square Park — to help save the historic Pavilion from being privatized into an exclusive restaurant. They are asking people to bring “Roses for Rosie” — or just yourselves — to Union Square this Wednesday, April 8th from 5:30-6:30 p.m., north end at 16th Street.

As you likely know, nearby Washington Square Park is under the jurisdiction of City Council Member Alan Gerson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn. They, like Council Member Mendez, are two Council Members who didn’t push back when the City’s Parks Department announced its dramatic re-visioning of WSP, thereby allowing Mayor Bloomberg to trample over our precious public space. Yet again. But there’s still time. Gerson took a stand recently against the Parks Department’s plans (better late than never) at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing for Washington Sq Park – and he can do more! And Rosie Mendez certainly can as well. It is time for our elected officials to stand up to the Mayor.

Come out on Wednesday to protect Union Square.

SAVE THE PAVILION

Wed, April 8, 2009
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Union Sq. Park (North side)

The details from Union Square Not for Sale:

“The injunction preventing construction on the Union Square Pavilion was lifted by Judge Jane Solomon on March 31, 2009. Construction of Union Square Partnership’s tablecloth restaurant will now proceed as planned. This is very disappointing news but hardly the last word: the judge made it clear that another lawsuit can be brought further on in the process as the bidding for the lease unfolds.

The fight for the historic pavilion is far from over. It is as important as ever to resist the introduction of a private, for-profit enterprise in the pavilion. Once the privatizing begins it will be impossible to reverse. Union Square has the highest concentration of restaurants and the lowest amount of public space in the entire city. There is no need for a restaurant that will remove thousands of square feet of potential play space and threaten one of the city’s most important public assembly areas.

Council Member Rosie Mendez can put an end to this! Join us ­— let’s ask her to return the Pavilion for recreation and community use! Parks for the people, not for profit.

Let’s get in the park! Bring roses for Rosie and SPREAD THE WORD!”

Reminder: Blogging Break

Just a reminder that WSP Blog is on a blogging break until Monday, April 13th (though I haven’t kept to it entirely…as you may have noted). However, I do have some news about a gathering this Wednesday at Union Square which I’ll post later today or tomorrow.

Union Square FOR Sale? … Judge rules NYC Parks Department and local BID can Proceed with Renovations that Will Likely Include Privatized Restaurant

Union Square Park Not for SaleUpdated April 2nd, 2009

It had been so quiet on the Union Square Park Pavilion front, and, frankly, it seemed like this had been a victory in the effort to save our public space.

The issue? Whether the historic Union Square Pavilion should be turned into a private restaurant at the behest of Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and Union Square BID co-chair and restauranteur Danny Meyer.

What would this mean? This would take away the public space from everyday people and remove an integral part of NYC’s history from public usage.

$12 Pinot Noir anyone?

Although in more recent years no one’s been allowed in it, the Union Square Pavilion has been used throughout history as a site for political speeches and demonstrations, including the first Labor Day Parade in 1882. The hope was that the space could be used for the community, for performances, art, a museum with the history of the area, play space (although with 15,000 square feet of playground in the park – the playground itself was tripled and numerous trees cut down in the process – children have a lot of space as it is), etc. It is an opportunity to be creative.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe never misses an opportunity to link with a private corporation and is continuously seeking ways to turn NYC’s parks and public spaces into playgrounds for Mayor Bloomberg’s friends, manipulating them into homogenized, bland spaces devoid of their unique histories and charm. (See also: Washington Square Park)

NY State Supreme Court Judge Jane Solomon ruled Monday (3/30) on the case of Union Square Community Coalition and others vs. the New York City Parks Department and Union Square Partnership (local Business Improvement District). Her previous ruling was what was keeping a restaurant from going in to the historic Union Square Pavilion.

In a somewhat confusing decision, she dismissed the USCC’s lawsuit against the City and the BID because she said it was “unripe” (not ready to be argued) because it was unclear if the city’s plans – purposefully evasive – even included a restaurant. She ruled that USCC could come back to court once the city declares a restaurant is actually in their plans. However, it is pretty well known that millions of dollars are being spent to prepare for a restaurant. So you can, most likely, expect some more court action soon.

Union Square Not for Sale is asking people to put pressure on NY City Council Member Rosie Mendez (it’s her district) and Danny Meyer.

They write:

“The politicians and fat cats that are pushing to take away our public space and put it into private hands are vulnerable to public pressure, and we need to make them feel it. Councilmember Rosie Mendez needs to answer the question of why she signed off on this destructive, short-sighted plan in the first place. Danny Meyer needs to be called out publicly for hatching the scheme to take away play space for kids and performance space for artists. The Pavilion was designed and built with taxpayer money for public use. Privatizing it so that only paying customers can use it is just plain wrong.”

Contact info:

NY City Council Member Rosie Mendez phone; 212-677-1077
email: Rosie.Mendez-at-council.nyc.gov

Restauranteur and BID co-chair Danny Meyer/Union Square Hospitality Group phone: 212-228-3585
email: info-at-ushgnyc.com; dannymeyer-at-ushgnyc.com ******************************************************************

WSP Blog’s last post on this before the case being argued again in court on December 8th is here.