NY Observer: Washington Square Park Champion Deborah Glick Squares Off Against NYU’s Expansion Plans (Also A Look at the Lorax)

Today’s NY Observer covers NYU 2031 Expansion Plan and NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick with this piece, Washington Square Park Champion Deborah Glick Squares Off Against NYU’s Expansion Plans:

NYU has a plan – a big plan to establish an even greater presence in and around Washington Square Park. And while there is no Lorax in Greenwich Village to protect the parks, gardens, and playgrounds from these expansive construction plans, or NYU 2031 as it has come to be known, there is a woman fighting to keep the towering buildings from casting their gloomy shadows over Washington Square Park. She is Deborah Glick. And while she may not speak for the trees, she is doing her darndest to speak for the community.

Deborah Glick‘s district includes the Village, and the NYS Assembly Member has a history of being a “champion” for WSP — she was the only government official to speak up in a substantive way against the dramatic redesign of the Park.

And, for those (like me) who knew the film “The Lorax” came out recently (you couldn’t really miss it; it was also accused of greenwashing), didn’t see it, and didn’t recall the premise of the original Dr. Seuss story; here’s the overview from Wikipedia:

The Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most Dr. Seuss works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.

The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning the danger corporate greed poses to nature, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in any of the story’s illustrations or in the television special) and the environment as The Lorax.

(The trees at WSP could certainly use a Lorax speaking up for them.)

“The Vanishing City” event a success !

The Vanishing City event Saturday night 1/24 at The New Dixon Place (a pre-opening event) was a sold-out success! The film “Twilight Becomes Night” movingly emphasized why our local “mom and pop” stores are so important to communities (and our sense of community) vs. endless blocks of Duane Reade, Chase banks, Staples, and Starbucks. The preview trailer of the film “Vanishing New York” looks great. I met the filmmakers Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa and look forward to seeing the finished result coming this spring.

Kirby from Colonnade Row organized the event. (You can read his report back on it here.) New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick was particularly hard hitting and didn’t spare any words as to her feelings about Mayor Bloomberg! (Hint: Not so positive.) All the panelists, the moderation, the vibe, etc. were excellent and the turnout reflected the interest – and concern over – our Vanishing City.

The topics discussed – the non-stop giveaways to developers and corporations under the Bloomberg Administration; the lack of emphasis on preserving and valuing community; people and their neighborhoods being sold out for the benefit of real estate interests and “luxury” housing; community members being denied a voice in the “process” – are all relevant in relation to what’s transpired at Washington Square Park thus far.

When asked, Andrew Berman from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) didn’t have a clear answer as to why his organization supported – or purposefully abstained from taking a real position on– Mayor Bloomberg’s radical revisioning of Washington Square Park.

I have a lot of respect for the work GVSHP does. But that decision truly is a puzzling one. The old ‘line’ that the park needed a “renovation” just isn’t an appropriate one anymore. We all agree on that. The work being done is not a renovation. (In discussing Washington Square Park, Deborah Glick spared no words for the New York City Parks Department declaring it “arrogant” and stated that the tone is set from the top – meaning Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Correction: I’ve been informed that she meant Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Unfortunately, they’re both arrogant!) Berman asserted that landscape designer George Vellonakis, who is in charge of the park’s redesign and inexplicably also on the board of GVSHP, recused himself from any votes in the matter. But the fact that he’s on the board is telling enough.

(Original details about the event here.)

NYC: The Vanishing City: Films and Discussion Saturday, January 24th

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

A topic I’ve tried to explore on Washington Square Park Blog over the last year are the dramatic changes going on in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.

Our CEO Mayor’s pro-development, pro-corporate interests, massive re-zonings, and anti-community initiatives are all dramatically accelerating the pace of change in New York, destroying the fabric, the underpinning, of what makes New York New York – its unique, gritty, welcoming to all, pace-setting, dynamic edge.

Evidence of these initiatives exist across the city’s five boroughs. See: Coney Island, Willets Point, Yankee Stadium land grab and park destruction in the Bronx, Lower East Side/Chinatown re-zonings, Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards debacle, NYU and Columbia University’s mammoth, soulless expansions, the overtaking of Harlem, and, of course, Washington Square Park, among too many others.

We can welcome the future without bulldozing the past.

But not Mayor Bloomberg and his corporate allies … they wish to create a homogenized, bland version of New York. Emphasis on corporatization, privatization, tourism, real estate, Wall Street (you see how well that’s been going, eh?). To do this, the past must disappear. It challenges and hinders their efforts. It reminds people of what once was – and can be.

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Now, at last, an event, with two films and discussion, is happening, the first of others, the organizers say.

Details:

THE VANISHING CITY
Saturday, January 24 – 8PM
The NEW Dixon Place Theater; 161 Chrystie Street (Rivington/Delancey), Manhattan
RSVP: 212 219-0736 x113

$20 includes reception with panel to follow event
$15 general admission; $12 seniors/students/discount code

Proceeds benefit the funding of the film “Vanishing New York” and community programs at Dixon Place.

FEATURING-

A screening of the acclaimed short film “Twilight Becomes Night
A preview of the work-in-progress film Vanishing New York
And a panel of activists and preservationists taking audience questions:

-Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation
-Bettina Domiani, Director, Good Jobs New York
-Deborah Glick, New York State Assemblymember
-Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa, Directors/Producers, “Vanishing New York”

Moderated by Michael Karp; Curated by Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa

Luxury development is radically changing the face and faces of New York City. The middle class, small businesses and artists are being priced out at an alarming rate. You can’t stop development, so how then do you preserve the things that make this city one of the most unique places in the world?

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Jeremiah at Vanishing New York blog (not affiliated with the film) interviewed the director of “Twilight Becomes Night,” Virginie-Alvine Perrette, here.

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New Blog entries resume Monday, January 26th!