Mike Bloomberg on people in the Village: “the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.”

In case you missed this… In Scoopy’s Notebook, The Villager, May 24, 2012

Positive purple aura? Many people think that Greenwich Village’s cachet — and the value of its property — comes from its beautiful, landmarked, low-scale buildings, its artistic and intellectual ferment and its numerous attractions, from Washington Square to cafes and cultural spots. But Mayor Bloomberg says simply being close to New York University is a major factor driving property values. Responding to a reporter’s question last month about the university’s 2031 plan, Bloomberg said of the Village, “People there, the value of their homes, the level of their quality of life is due to the proximity of N.Y.U.” He furthermore accused the plan’s opponents of “playing politics with it,” adding that this is “not beneficial to anyone.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, sadly, the mayor just doesn’t get it. “Spoken like a man who comes from Boston and lives on the Upper East Side,” she said. “I don’t think he particularly understands New York — he understands a very limited slice of New York. The neighborhood, day-to-day life of New Yorkers is not something that has value for him or his social set. People will be disappointed, but I don’t think they’ll be the least bit surprised,” Glick said of the mayor’s claims that it’s actually N.Y.U. that is elevating everyone’s quality of life.

Advertisements

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

On NYU’s Proposed Continued Expansion Throughout the Village

* Series On NYU’s Proposed Expansion Plan 2031 * 

Recycled Entry * Originally Published March 26, 2010 (edited version)

With news of N.Y.U.’s proposed plan to expand their New York City campus by 40%, this photo shows us what the view through the Arch would be like if there was no building at 58 Washington Square South (which NYU acquired and plans to make 6-7 stories – it was previously two – next to Kimmel Center) – right now, you can actually see through to West 3rd Street!

Speaking to the New York Times about the proposed expansion, New York University President John Sexton (reached in Qatar, near N.Y.U.’s new Abu Dhabi campus) responds as if he is new to the scene. He states, “It’s clear that N.Y.U. had a history of moving forward without listening.”

Just how long has John Sexton been President of N.Y.U.? Since 2001. Though a lot happened in previous years, still, a lot of that “moving forward without listening” occurred on his watch.

The paper informs us:

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of students living in N.Y.U. housing tripled to 12,000, from 4,000, as the university raised its national profile. (In the early ’90s, 50 percent of its students came from the metropolitan area; now that figure has declined to 10 to 15 percent.) By 2031, N.Y.U. expects its total student body to grow to 46,500 students, up from the current 41,000.

Further, The Times reports: “In its Washington Square neighborhood, the university will be creating the equivalent in square footage of a little more than the total floor area of the Empire State Building.”

Mr. Sexton, who alarmed me when I heard his perplexing speech in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to overturn voted-in term limits (as I wrote at the time: “More Bloomberg. More NYU.”), stated: “For New York to be a great city, we need N.Y.U. to be a great university.”

Actually, I’m sure many would argue in order for New York to be a “great city,” we need a bit less N.Y.U., at least less N.Y.U., in the fashion it currently operates.

Fewer N.Y.U. flags planted amidst every inch of our communities and neighborhoods. And historic spaces like the Edgar Allen Poe House and Provincetown Playhouse as well as cultural spots which added to the vibrancy of the neighborhood like The Bottom Line preserved – not demolished – by the overreaching arm of N.Y.U. expansion.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, stated: “N.Y.U. seems to have worked on their P.R. machine quite a bit, but the reality of what they’re doing — which is taking over more and more of the neighborhood — doesn’t seem like it’s changed very much. They’ve given everybody the opportunity to say what they think and then they’ve largely ignored that feedback.

March 26, 2010 (edited)

Previous WSP Blog Posts:

* Isn’t there anyone who can outbid or outmaneuver NYU? 58 Washington Sq South Goes to the Dark Side

* NYU: “Thanks for your patience”; the University Continues Its Unregulated Building, Ignoring Community Agreements on Provincetown Playhouse

Photos: Cathryn

Bloomberg’s Controlling Nature Blacks Out Media Coverage of OWS Middle-of-the-Night Ouster; Reassessing Use of our Parks, Public Spaces

City Park Duarte Square - Canal & 6th Yesterday

The media today and yesterday is focused on looking at Occupy Wall Street every which way. The orchestrated middle-of-the-night ousting of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park by Mayor Michael Bloomberg raises so many questions but here’s a few:

In today’s cities, should there be places people can mobilize from 24-7 if needed? Who decides? Perhaps the pure definition of public space and its usage needs to be revised. Our parks have become about rules and control vs. being actual public spaces geared to what people want. There needs to be a balance and currently it’s tipped too much one way, as we see again and again.

Then, there are large overarching questions about Bloomberg’s decision to shut down media coverage of what went down – as it happened. I understand it was not particularly convenient for him if there were images and reporters on site recording his NYPD in action. But does that mean he shuts it down? And is allowed to, with no repercussions? Yet, again he shows his controlling nature while spouting his great love of democracy.

Thankfully, Judson Church, across from the park, stepped in – in the middle of the night – and offered shelter space to those ousted from Zuccotti and again last night. I stopped by yesterday morning and it was very heartening to see the space opened and welcoming to those who needed it.

Some snapshots from the media coverage (more photos from yesterday coming) —

From Daily Kos via Reader Supported News: Media Blackout on Mayor’s Raid on Zuccotti Park” 11/15:

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to stage a middle of the night raid on the Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park, there was one thing he didn’t want … media coverage. So Bloomberg said screw the First Amendment:

New York Observer Politics Reporter Hunter Walker:

I was blocked from viewing nypd raid at #occupywallstreet along with reporters from cnbc, nbc, cbs, wsj and reuters #mediablackout

New York Times Reporter Brian Stelter:

I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared. He thinks violence was “completely deliberate.”

Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson:

Cops just violently shoved me away as I tried to shoot this man in a stretcher being loaded into ambulance http://twitpic.com/7efa2v

And from the gothamist:

During our coverage of the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early this morning, a NPR reporter, a New York Times reporter, and a city councilmember were arrested. Airspace in Lower Manhattan was closed to CBS and NBC news choppers by the NYPD, a New York Post reporter was allegedly put in a “choke hold” by the police, a NBC reporter’s press pass was confiscated and a large group of reporters and protesters were hit with pepper spray. According to the eviction notice, the park was merely “cleaned and restored for its intended use.” If this is the case, why were so few people permitted to view it?

Empty Zuccotti Yesterday A.M. Pigeons & Men in Yellow - Before Being Re-Occupied

New York Times, Beyond Seizing Parks, New Paths to Influence11/15:

In New York, where the police temporarily evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, and in other cities, dozens of organizers maintained that the movement had already reshaped the public debate. They said it no longer needed to rely solely on seizing parks, demonstrating in front of the homes of billionaires or performing other acts of street theater.

“We poured a tremendous amount of resources into defending a park that was nearly symbolic,” said Han Shan, an Occupy Wall Street activist in New York. “I think the movement has shown it transcends geography.”

Dr. [William] Galston [a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution], predicted that though protesters across the country were being pushed out of their encampments, their issues would endure.

“The underlying reality to which the movement has called attention is too big, too pervasive, too important to go away,” he said.

New York Times, Zuccotti Park Largely Unoccupied and Quiet 11/16:

Many protesters, however, did not stay at the park.

At Judson Memorial Church, across the street from Washington Square Park, about 60 protesters were sprawled out on blankets in the church’s lower parish hall, said Lisel Burns, a volunteer there.

“They came in all night,” Ms. Burns said. “Some were so tired they just fell right asleep.”

The Guardian, “Occupy Wall Street: You Can’t Evict an Idea Whose Time Has Come” (Statement) 11/15:

This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic. The “us” in this movement is far broader than those who are able to participate in physical occupations. The movement is everyone who sends supplies, everyone who talks to their friends and families about the underlying issues, everyone who takes some form of action to get involved in this civic process.

Such a movement cannot be evicted. Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces – our spaces – and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas. Our idea is that our political structures should serve us, the people – all of us, not just those who have amassed great wealth and power. We believe this idea resonates with so many of us because Congress, beholden to Wall Street, has ignored the powerful stories pouring out from the homes and hearts of our neighbors, stories of unrelenting economic suffering. Our dream for a democracy in which we matter is why so many people have come to identify with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

More photos from yesterday coming.

Greenwich Village On Halloween Night – Policing Run Amok? Washington Square Park Closed; Access to Parade Limited; Streets Dangerously Barricaded

Washington Square Park Gated and Locked Halloween 2011

Police Barricading the Arch Around 6 p.m.

Joe Mangrum Halloween Sand Painting before Park shut down

Empty Pathways Washington Sq Park

Eastern Entrance to Park Closed

NYPD shutting South entrance to Park

Lonely Arch

Updated — So… the famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade occurred last night – hard to miss as it’s an institution at this point, no longer on the fringe but part of the mainstream, and now in its 39th year.

Of course, one of the best places to get the true Greenwich Village flavor before, during and after the parade would be … the famous Village park that resides a mere block away. And yet… Washington Square Park – the entire public space – was gated, cleared out, locked, and closed as of 6:30 p.m. yesterday. This is only in more recent years under the Bloomberg Administration*. Not even Mayor Rudy Giuliani closed the Park for Halloween. The Bloomberg Administration is the first to do so, as part of its ongoing encroachment on the accessibility and use of public space.

As I left shortly after the park was closed off and walked around the perimeter, a young man asked a police officer inside, “Is the park closed?” She responded, “Yes, temporarily.” He asked, “‘Til when?” She said, “I don’t know.” She paused. “Until they tell us.”

Venturing up to Sixth Avenue, I found a spot with a friend along the parade route between West 8th and Waverly on the eastern side. We decided to seek out a spot with better sight lines thinking heading north might be better.

As we ventured a few steps north, we could not get very far. 8th Street was closed off and barricaded – you could not cross it but you also could not turn east onto it except via a narrow, barricaded passageway along the sidewalk right up against Barnes & Noble. There was a packed crowd there all trying to get somewhere with little space to navigate within. The crush of the crowd – fortunately very good-natured but growing restless and angry at being caged in – was intense. Despite having created this dangerous situation where the teeming crowd was all forced into this small space via excessive barricading, there were no police to be seen at that location.

A man standing against the wall at Barnes & Noble said if we could get 1/4 of the way down the block, the barricading ended and we could walk freely. That is exactly what happened. Except, next, they started blocking off all of 8th Street. I said to a police officer, “Why are you closing the street? This is crazy.” He shrugged, “Do I look like I’m in charge here?”

We then got to Fifth Avenue where the overflow crowds from this untenable scenario had all headed. Every block between 5th and 6th Avenues was closed off and we were all directed to 14th Street. Except when we got to 14th Street, that too was closed off, and, over a bullhorn, a police officer announced, “Attention: Access to the Parade Route is Closed. You’re Late. The Parade Is Over.” (It wasn’t.) We then ventured to 17th (or 18th?) 19th Street and were finally able to head west to 6th Avenue except the parade ended a block further south so nothing was visible.

Now, this might sound like NYPD crowd control – as in a way to make things “ordered” – but it was not. It is creating a potentially pernicious situation. I kept saying, “This isn’t safe.” My friend shook his head and said to me, “This isn’t about safety. It’s about their control. The higher ups use these parades to practice their logistical command.” Then, it seems to me that it’s control at the expense of safety. We are just lucky there wasn’t an incident of some kind because their “system” of barricades and blocked off streets is not set up to accommodate it. Someone I know who was there agreed, stating: “I felt the same way. They trapped people in.”

People are cooperative and yet the city does everything to assume the worst of everyone and in the process makes the parade, while still fun and with great energy, a negative and potentially harmful experience – because of the City’s actions.

The media are given up close access, as are the politicians, so no one is reporting on this. It’s possible even the event organizers are not aware of the extent to which the NYPD is harming their parade and the experience of it. If I had stayed in my relatively cozy spot on Sixth Avenue off Waverly, I might not have realized the scope of this NYPD insanity.

There needs to be a hard look at how this parade, a Village tradition, is now being managed by the Bloomberg Administration and the NYPD.

As far as the park being closed, people ought to have access to this public space. If it’s public safety that the city is worried about, stop blocking off virtually every single street along the route with barricades and sending people on elaborate ruses and corralling them into narrow passageways. People want to have fun and be playful on Halloween – assuming the worst of them is just so wrong and so Bloomberg.

Bottom line: Washington Square Park should be open on Halloween night.

*Someone called the Bloomberg Administration “the control freak administration” in a comment at the Villager piece on no musical performances near the park’s fountain, benches. Couldn’t agree more.

Chelsea Now Weekly Uncovers the Real Dirt on Artificial Turf; Turf Scheduled for the Mounds at WSP in Phase III

Chelsea Now has a great story about artificial turf in this week’s issue. Washington Square Park is scheduled to get artificial turf at the base of the Mounds (now scheduled for Phase III construction), despite the fact that pretty much everyone is against it.

Excerpts from Chelsea Now article: Hot Footing It: The heat is on artificial turf August 24, 2011

As reported in the March article, Geoffrey Croft (head of the watchdog group, NYC Park Advocates) took, before noon, temperature readings at a dozen New York City parks in July 2010. Artificial turf fields measured over 170 degrees — the highest temperature recorded in his three years of monitoring. By 9:15am, the temperature had already risen to over 140 degrees. “Young children are particularly susceptible, as it can take only two seconds to burn on solid surfaces greater than 140 degrees, according to doctors,” said Croft. …

… “for ten years, the city put down this surface without doing a single test,” said Croft. Patrick Arden, in his article on the dangers of artificial turf, wrote, “Several credible studies had found the crumb rubber contains known human carcinogens and neurotoxic chemicals, as well as lead, chromium and arsenic” (City Limits magazine, “Was New York City’s Shift to Artificial Grass a 300-Million-Dollar Mistake? A Risky Play,” September 2010).

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Arden ascertained that a group of doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital identified several “proven and potential” hazards of synthetic turf made from recycled tires: “excessive heat,” with field temperatures reaching as high as 172 degrees; MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can be acquired through “turf burns;” and chemical exposures.

The Astroturf-style carpet at Chelsea Park and the crumb rubber infill turf at J.J. Walker were both cited for elevated lead levels.  …

According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website’s “Fact Sheet on Synthetic Turf Used in Athletic Fields and Play Areas,” the city is now using “carpet-style or alternative infill materials on all new fields, and implementing protocols to inspect, test and replace any existing synthetic turf fields that may age or deteriorate.” They are “using strict purchasing protocols to select the best synthetic turf products and requiring suppliers to provide information on chemical content, heating absorbency properties, environmental factors and health and safety issues.”

“We forced the city to stop using recycled tires,” said Croft. “City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, introduced a few bills that really helped. It was a first step. Up to then, Adrian Benepe [the Parks Commissioner] made fun of it.” …

I am sure part of the reason is maintenance related, but to me that is not a solution,” said Viverito, “and I don’t buy it half the time.” She pointed out that in the “vast parks system” less than .03 percent goes to parks. “If it is the intent to have a park where people can hang out, when the turf can reach past 130 degrees, this is not a good idea. It is counterproductive to what a passive space is. You want to encourage people to come into the park, not turn them away.” …

Viverito declared, “We will continue to put pressure on this administration to do the right thing. It has worked sometimes. Other times they have put their heels to the ground and are resistant.

There’s much more at the article including quotes from athletes using the fields that are quite interesting!

*********************************************************************

Previous on WSP Blog: Heard at City Council Hearings on Artificial Turf: “But Where Will the Tires go?”; Mayor Bloomberg says this is “a made-up story” February 10, 2009

Triangle Factory Fire Event – Plus Mainstream Media Omits Response to the Mayor from Reports

The Street After the Event

Signs were held with names of the 146 workers who died

Original Site Greene & Washington Place

Breaking Down Event (Washington Sq Park in background)

The Triangle Factory Fire occurred on March 25, 1911 and killed 146 workers, mostly young women. As I wrote last week, this past Friday marked the 100th Anniversary of the fire. I attended the annual commemoration at the site, one block from Washington Square Park. You wouldn’t know from any of the major NYC media reports that when Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke, he was not welcomed, and was, in fact, steadily booed. (Despite really wanting to hear the Mayor’s speech to witness exactly this – what the crowd’s response to him would be – I dashed over to Think Coffee and missed him! Luckily, there is YouTube.)

It appears Agence France-Presse was the only major news agency to report it. Was the Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary event considered so prestigious that the media did not want to tarnish the Mayor’s tenuous image further? (Google “Bloomberg booed at St. Patrick’s Day Parade” and then “Bloomberg booed at Triangle Fire” to see how this works. One will reveal mainstream media reports; the other will not.) Of course, there is YouTube and many bloggers and other sites that are more than willing to write about this. Still, it’s a bit curious.

One downside to how the event was set up – NYPD set up barricades splitting the crowd between the event’s three block radius on Washington Place, leaving Mercer Street, for example, open (but not to access the event). It dissipated the synergy of the crowd and didn’t make the event safer (the “pens” make everything feel less safe).

* Previous WSP Blog post: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Commemoration March 25th

* Many photos of the event, including a procession from Union Square, at Staten Island Bob’s site.

On the Fountain Plaza: NYPD


The Park. Tuesday — People enjoying the Plaza by the Fountain. Music. Conversation. Then, large New York Police Department van appears, just sitting there, for how long I’m not sure.

I realize there are people who may (?) consider this a good thing but, a bit of overkill, no?

Previous WSP Blog post: The NYPD will be watching YOU at Washington Square Park

Update on “The Vanishing City”; Documentary Screens Tonite, Saturday, September 25th at Williamsburg Film Festival

Tonight, Saturday, September 25th, catch the completed version of documentary “The Vanishing City” at the Williamsburg International Film Festival, aka WilliFest, at 10 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The Festival began Thursday, September 23rd and ends tomorrow, Sunday September 26th.

You can’t miss the dramatic changes in our New York City neighborhoods that have transpired at an escalated pace during the Bloomberg years, particularly throughout Manhattan but creeping into the other boroughs. The film attempts to answer “why?

The Daily News featured an excellent write-up on the film’s creators, filmmakers Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa, yesterday:

“The more questions we asked, the film became more of journa-listic expose, a detective story,” says Senko.

“Essentially, we found that the city was using taxpayers’ money to more and more finance luxury housing, pushing out people and businesses that had been there for generations. These developers got huge subsidies and tax breaks, while taxes on small landlords and co-ops were going up nearly 40 percent.

“The result is changing the whole culture of Manhattan, and the film took on that focus.”

To view the excellent trailer for the film, and more on why the city is vanishing so quickly, take a look at this piece from Examiner.com:

The film points out that New York, while always changing, used to change in increments. In the 90s luxury development started ramping up and by the aughts exploded, slashing and burning its way through neighborhood after neighborhood. Luxury development has become the norm and entire neighborhoods have been re-zoned to not only allow it, but to preclude any other kind of development.

“The Vanishing City” just opened the Harlem International Film Festival on Thursday 9/23 and is receiving a lot of important and much deserved attention.

For tickets for tonight, or the rest of the festival, visit here.

Protests Against NYC’s Mass Killing of Canada Geese in Public Parks; Support Grows Across the U.S. to Let Geese Live

Protesters Flock to Bloomberg's East Side Townhouse

A Walk in the Park Blog reports on Monday evening’s (August 9th) protest in front of Mayor Bloomberg’s townhouse condemning the Mayor’s support for killing up to 2000 resident Canada Geese in NYC public parks and spaces over the last two years.

The recent incident that raised people’s ire – and awareness – was the gassing of close to 400 Canada Geese which called Brooklyn’s Prospect Park home on Thursday, July 8th in the middle of the night. This was carried out with no public notice, no discussion, no transparency.

At Monday’s action, protesters were only allowed across the street from the Mayor’s East 79th Street townhouse. He was inside at the time with guests but left at one point directly encountering activists.

While our Mayor cites “air safety,” this is a ruse. Killing these resident geese will not make air travel safer. The birds that collided with the famous Flight 1549 which safely landed in the Hudson were migratory geese. Even so, are we supposed to kill every bird in the sky? We can keep birds away from the pathways directly near the airports through habitat modification; we can also track migratory patterns and track birds via radar.

We need to remember that we need to adapt to the birds; they do not have to adapt to us. Canada Geese deserve to live on this earth. We can’t keep making them move from place to place. They lived quite well and in harmony with people and other species at Prospect and other parks. It is readily forgotten that these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As their numbers have increased; unfortunately, so has our appreciation for them.

On Thursday, August 12th at 12 noon, there will be a protest/rally at New York City Hall in support of the geese and against killing.

Recent CNN piece on support for Canada Geese.

Photo: Geoffrey Croft / NYC Park Advocates

************************************************************************

Previously on WSP Blog:

* Why did New York City approve a massacre of 400 geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park?

* The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese: Part I