Surprise! Mayor Michael Bloomberg Expresses Support for NYU Massive Expansion in the Village – Will this Help or Hurt the University?

(Updated)

NY1 reports: Mayor Bloomberg Stands By NYU’s Greenwich Village Expansion Plans

Why does this feel like term limits all over again? The daily papers all supporting an unsustainable and undesired position completely opposite the wishes of most New Yorkers. The billionaire Mayor on the wrong side. Again. And then, all his city agencies – in this case, the Planning Commission and City Council – will inevitably just fall in line. It’s clear that Bloomberg had already expressed behind the scenes his support of the plan. Mike is always in favor of anything that benefits the developers and corporations. And we know that NYU President John Sexton jumped down to City Hall to support granting no limit of Bloomberg’s term in his up-is-down testimony. As I wrote at the time, “More Bloomberg. More NYU.”

It’s sort of horrifying – if it wasn’t so real.

Hopefully, things can be learned by those issues on which Bloomberg has not “won.” Can someone remind me what those are? I know there have been a few. Westside Stadium, for one. Others? (And when I say “won,” Bloomberg hasn’t really “won” on any of these issues, as much as subverted the democratic process and bought influence somehow – it’s never a “fair” fight.)

Previously at WSP Blog:

* The Blanding of New York City: Why It’s Time for Mayor Mike to Go

* Why Mayor Bloomberg Wants Redesign of Washington Square Park

Substantive Letters’ Response in Rebuttal to Times’ Endorsement of NYU Massive Expansion

Four letters appeared in response to the March 31st-April 1st Editorial by the New York Times which supported NYU’s massive expansion plan “2031”; all in rebuttal to the editorial and against the plan (the first two letters written by NYU professors):

The Fight Over N.Y.U.’s Expansion Plan
Published: April 6, 2012

To the Editor:

In your April 1 editorial “Let N.Y.U. Expand in Its Backyard,” you claim that New York University “needs to expand” and has “mostly made its case for the extra room.” But surely that is only relevant if the means used to create the “extra room” don’t interfere with the university’s ability to fulfill its educational mission. Bigger is not always better for what a university does.

Fearing the effect that the prospect of living 20 years on a construction site is likely to have on its ability to retain and attract top faculty, the university’s politics department, at a March 27 meeting, indicated its opposition to N.Y.U.’s expansion plan by a vote of 27 to 2. Several other departments will be holding similar meetings.

When it comes to fulfilling the educational mission of a university, it is not the board of trustees, or the president it appoints, but the faculty who are the best judges of what is needed and what is downright harmful. That makes it doubly unfortunate that most of the media have ignored or trivialized our views.

BERTELL OLLMAN
New York, April 1, 2012

The writer is a professor of politics at New York University.

To the Editor:

Many, many N.Y.U. faculty members oppose this plan, but not because we’re reactive Nimbys. Instead, we’re worried about the financial and academic health of our university, which we believe will be negatively affected by this oversized plan.

We’re worried about the health of the tenants who live in the superblocks and who will endure 20 years of nonstop construction noise, dust and the army of rats expected to be unsettled by the big dig. Finally, we’re worried about the architectural and environmental health of a beloved neighborhood.

Ironically, N.Y.U.’s building plan would do devastating harm to the very neighborhood that is part of its sales pitch to prospective students. N.Y.U. is a vital part of Greenwich Village. But it cannot be allowed to tower over it — literally or figuratively.

ANN PELLEGRINI
New York, April 2, 2012

The writer is a professor of performance studies and religious studies at New York University.

To the Editor:

I was shocked and disappointed to see the position you took in favor of N.Y.U.’s proposed expansion in Greenwich Village.

I know of no one living in the community who supports this plan. It would have an absolutely disastrous effect on the immediate neighborhood and indeed on the wider Village community. I lived for 38 years near the two superblocks where N.Y.U. proposes to expand and know how devastating these changes would be.

Community Board 1 has invited N.Y.U. to expand in the financial district. This is a perfect solution, building in a neighborhood that could use more activity and more people, and protecting a neighborhood that cannot sustain the kind of onslaught that the expansion would entail.

EVE STUART

New York, April 2, 2012

To the Editor:

I agree that N.Y.U. has to expand. But so far it has refused to discuss options that would reduce the plan’s overwhelming impact on our neighborhood. I hope that N.Y.U. takes to heart your point that the current design should be a negotiating position.

More than 40 businesses have joined together to raise concerns about this proposal because while we see many benefits of a significantly scaled-down expansion, we also recognize that the current Midtown-like plans would overwhelm the community.

N.Y.U. should, in good faith, negotiate with our elected officials to find a common-sense solution that significantly reduces the proposed density, expands opportunities for local businesses, creates accessible open space and adds infrastructure improvements.

JUDY PAUL

(Note: Judy Paul is the proprietress of the Washington Square Hotel.)