Juan Gonzalez has an excellent piece in today’s New York Daily News: “Mayor Bloomberg’s Union Square Park Restaurant Deal Tasteless.”
A $7 million private donation to the project from an anonymous source is based in part on construction of the [restaurant] concession, a [Union Square] partnership spokesman confirmed yesterday.
So why can a private donor give money only on condition that a portion of a public park become a private concession?
The fire sale of public space for private business deals has become all too common in the Bloomberg era. Mullaly Park in the Bronx was sacrificed for the new Yankee Stadium.
Randalls Island was turned over first for a water park concession, but the deal later collapsed. Then there was a deal to give rich private schools preference on using the island’s ballfields. A Supreme Court justice voided that deal and the city has appealed.
The article also revealed something I did not know. Restauranteur Danny Meyer – who is presently co-chair of the Union Square Partnership (the local business improvement district/BID) which controls much of Union Square Park already — was “a founder and director of the Madison Square Park Conservancy” at the time he was given concession space within that park. That concession is the “popular” Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
Meyer, who owns Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, also heads the Union Square Partnership and is a major promoter of the $20 million renovation.
Meyer has sworn under oath he would not bid to run a restaurant in Union Square Park.
That’s not the question. The question is when will Mayor Bloomberg stop giving his rich friends city parkland?
And let’s not forget the plans for the naming of the Fountain in Washington Square Park “Tisch Fountain” which occurred after the Tisch Family made a $2.5 million “donation” to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.