NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick Will Hold Rally Against NYU 2031 Plan Saturday, February 11th at Judson Church; Where Will Council Member Margaret Chin Fall On The Matter?

At least one elected official is speaking up and organizing around New York University’s Proposed Expansion Plan. New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick, whose district includes Greenwich Village, will be joining with community groups, including CAAN 2031, Friends of LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village Block Associations, and Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (links to be added), to speak out against the NYU Plan 2031. Assembly Member Glick has called for a rally this weekend on Saturday, February 11th, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at Judson Church along Washington Square South across from the Park.

No word yet on where New York City Council Member Margaret Chin will fall. Ms. Chin was extraordinarily evasive at the community meeting in January when asked her position on the topic. Ms. Chin’s position is a potent vote in the matter — the project falls within her district; the City Council as a whole is inclined to follow the opinion of the local Council Member in their vote.

The case of 135 Bowery and its landmarking status should be background information for anyone concerned as to how this may play out.

Our Town Downtown looked at CM Chin’s decision to reverse her stand on landmarking 135 Bowery, as did WestView News in this illuminating piece on her vote, “Questions Abound in Chinatown.”

In addition, neither Margaret Chin nor her office has ever responded to this blog’s queries inquiring into the status of the construction or budget at Washington Square Park. Deborah Glick has.

From the press release from Deborah Glick’s office:

On January 3rd, 2012, the New York City Department of City Planning certified the Draft Environmental Impact Statement submitted by New York University (NYU) for the development of the ‘superblocks’ bordered by West 3rd Street, West Houston Street, Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place. The NYU Core Plan (aka NYU 2031) is now one month into a roughly 7 month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) which involves approvals and recommendations from the Community Board, Borough President, City Planning, City Council and the Mayor.

The application being reviewed through ULURP proposes changing the current residential zoning (R7-2) to commercial (C1-7), which effectively eliminates all open space requirements, allowing significantly greater density than currently allowed, or allowed under any residential zoning. The plan as proposed would add 2.5 million square feet of University owned space (equivalent to the Empire State Building) including a new gymnasium, classroom space, a dorm and a university affiliated hotel.

It would include 4 new buildings, up to 26 stories tall and develop underground space up to 5 floors. As planned, the construction is estimated to last 18 years. Furthermore, NYU wants to buy public park strips, currently owned by the NYC Department of Transportation and convert them to University controlled land in an area where there is only 0.4 acres of parkland per 1,000 people, while the benchmark for an area well-served by parkland is 2.5 acres per 1,000 people.

In January, Manhattan Community Board 2 held 5 public hearings and will hold an additional 7 hearings in February to garner input from the Community at large. Attendance at these meetings has been extremely high, with overwhelming opposition to the plan. Community Board 2 will vote on their resolution for this proposal at the next full board meeting, February 23rd.

When Margaret Chin does finally state her position, will she then flip flop? Community pressure will be of the utmost importance. The vast expansion of New York University and reconfiguration of Greenwich Village space is not equal to 135 Bowery. While in no way diminishing the importance of that vote (and her constituents will remember), this is big time. Will she be able to stand up to the Bloomberg Administration and real estate and corporate interests? This is a critical moment.

To contact Margaret Chin: Stop by her District Office 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or write her at: Chatham Green, 165 Park Row, suite #11, New York, NY 10038; District Office Phone 212-587-3159; email: chin@council.nyc.gov

-links to be added-

Last Night at Washington Square

Red-tailed Hawk Bobby Perched Atop the Judson Church Cross While…


This is neighborhood Red-tailed hawk Bobby, I presume, atop the Judson Church cross. Previously noted as one of his favorite haunts around the park, he lingered there for a long time.

Baby Soda Band Played on the Garibaldi Stage


Baby Soda (above) last night at the Park. They were quite good!

From their web site:

Baby Soda is on the forefront of a new movement loosely known as street jazz; with an eclectic set of influences ranging from 30’s era swing, New Orleans jazz, and southern gospel. The ensemble doesn’t desire to recreate the past, rather they bring the concept and joy of the music to the present.

Baby Soda is an adaptable and ever changing group made up of New York’s finest musicians; featuring trumpet, trombone, clarinet, banjo and the unique one string box bass.

The Washington Square Arch: Some Additional History

Washington Sq Arch late 1800's/early 1900's

The Arch at Washington Square Park was originally built in wood half a block away from its current location for the Centennial of George Washington’s Presidential inauguration in 1889. It was then commissioned in marble and completed in its current location at Fifth Avenue in the early 1890’s. The community came together to raise funds to build the permanent Washington Square Arch which was designed by noted architect Stanford White. The sculptures which adorn the ‘legs’ of the Arch — Washington At War and Washington at Peace, described in this previous blog entry — were not completed until 1916 and 1918.

The picture above must have been taken at some point between 1892 and 1916 – before the pedestal sculptures were completed as they are missing in the photo. Also note the decorative fence in foreground.

Stanford White died in 1906 (he was murdered atop the 2nd version of Madison Square Garden, since demolished, a building he also designed) and did not see the two Washington sculptures completed and adorning the Arch.

Judson Memorial Church, another building White designed, can be seen through the Arch – as White intended.

More on the history of the Washington Square Arch, “Exitus Acta Probat” (the Washington Family Coat of Arms) and architect Stanford White here.

Thank you to Matt Kovary for sending this photo in.

Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse Cable/Internet Show Covers Jane Jacobs’ Event at Judson Church in Two Episodes

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Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse is a well-produced “non-corporate media” outlet, viewed on MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network), BCAT (Brooklyn Community Access Television) and YouTube, covering topics such as The Atlantic Yards, media consolidation, Eminent Domain abuse, as well as changes linked to (over) development in NYC.

The program is airing a two part show from September 22nd’s Jane Jacobs event organized by Reverend Billy and held at Judson Memorial Church across from Washington Square Park.

From the release:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs’s most famous book, helped change the blind acceptance of urban planners and their grand schemes to remake cities into unlivable places. Jacobs ended Robert Moses’ reign of bad building and urban destruction. With the misguided development of the Bloomberg administration today, Jane Jacobs’s work is as important as it ever was. Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse presents two new episodes based on readings from Jane Jacobs, filmed at the Judson Church, NYC and hosted by Green Party Mayoral Candidate Rev Billy.

The event is split up into two episodes – links below to YouTube video:

Episode 1: Features neighborhood activists, Michael Premo from Picture the Homeless, Philip Dipaolo from The People’s Firehouse and Joy Chatel, Defender of the Duffield House Brooklyn Underground Railroad landmark.

Episode 2: Features neighborhood activists, Cathryn Swan of the Washington Square Park Blog and Save Union Square, Melanie Joseph of the Foundry Theatre and Christabel Gough, NYC preservationist hero.

Bob Holman, of the Howl Festival & Bowery Poetry Club and former City Councilwoman, Carol Greitzer, are other activists who spoke at the event and were not included in the above shows, due to lack of time, but can be found here.

You can watch Freddy’s Brooklyn Roadhouse weekly Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on BCAT and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on MNN.  Episodes are then also uploaded to YouTube.  Episode 1 aired this week but Episode 2 will air next week at the following times and places:  BCAT Tuesday Oct 20, 8 p.m., TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 34)/Cablevision(Ch. 67)/RCN(Ch. 82)Verizon(Ch. 42) and on MNN Thursday Oct 22, 8:30 p.m. TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 56)/Cablevision(Ch. 17)RCN(Ch. 83)Verizon(Ch. 34).  You can watch the shows on YouTube Episode I here; Episode II at this link.

Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park — Home to Two Stanford White-designed structures

I went by Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn over the weekend. The Urban Park Rangers in the Fort Greene Park Visitors Center told me a bit of the park’s history. They informed me that Stanford White, principal of McKim, Mead & White (noted NYC architects in the early 20th century) and renowned architect of the Washington Square Park Arch (and Judson Church, among others), was also the designer of the park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument (pictured) and the Visitor Center/Rest Rooms, a building the American Institute of Architecture apparently refers to as “the most elegant outhouse in the world.”

Fort Greene Park is quite a treasure and a well-utilized park. Nothing too bohemian or out of the ordinary happens there but it has its purpose as a place you go to just … be. (Or play basketball or tennis!) It’s pure park vs. a more “public space” like Washington Square where things … happen in public. (No performances or protest appear to occur regularly at Fort Greene Park.) And while Washington Square Park is just (under) 10 acres, Fort Greene Park is a bit over 30.

The only unfortunate thing about Fort Greene Park is that it appears entirely ruled by the private Fort Greene Conservancy, to the point where you’d (almost) never know it was part of the New York City Park System!

Some background on the Park from the Parks Department: During the battle of Long Island, in the late 1700’s, “the British held thousands of captives on prison ships anchored in the East River. Over 11,500 men and women died of overcrowding, contaminated water, starvation, and disease aboard the ships, and their bodies were hastily buried along the shore. These brave patriots represented all thirteen colonies and at least thirteen different nationalities. In 1808 the remains of the prison ship martyrs were buried in a tomb on Jackson Street (now Hudson Avenue), near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Brooklyn fort was renamed for General [Nathanael] Greene and rebuilt for the War of 1812. When the threat of war passed, locals enjoyed visiting the grounds of the old fort for recreation and relaxation. The City of Brooklyn designated the site for use as a public park in 1845, and [Brooklyn Daily Eagle] newspaper editor Walt Whitman rallied popular support for the project. In 1847 the legislature approved an act to secure land for Washington Park on the site of the old fort.”

The Monument for the prison ship martyrs (there is a crypt underneath with their bodies), erected in 1908, was the last building Stanford White designed. He did not live to see it built. He was shot to death in 1906 by his (ex) young mistresses’ husband on the roof of Madison Square Garden, a building he also designed (a previous version, not the one standing now).

Fort Greene Park was first named Washington Park; the original master plan was designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (architects behind Central Park and Prospect Park among many notable works) in 1864.

Photos: Cat