Week in Review: Union Square Court Decision, Danny Meyer, Washington Sq Park Photo Ops, more.

* NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe previously stated that the 14 trees the City plans to chop down at Union Square Park were “dying” and would have to be cut down no matter what. Yet, in court, the City submitted papers stating that just two of those 14 were “likely” to need to come down. Not definitely. Why can’t these trees be spared the City’s ax?

*Artist and activist Robert Lederman exposes how powerful the local BIDS – business improvement districts – are in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York. He details how, privatization, despite cheerleading from the media and CEO Bloomberg himself, has a dark side. At Union Square Park, when artists recently began being harassed by Parks Department police, it turns out this was under direction of the Union Square Partnership, the local BID, which has been given tremendous influence over Union Square Park (by the Parks Department).

*Speaking of BIDs, Manhattan Community Board 2 members, who act in an advisory role over Washington Square Park, posed with BID members and Parks Commissioner Benepe in this week’s Villager. They may have forgotten about that vote of April 19th, 2007 in which they rescinded their previous approval of the Parks Department’s “renovation” plans of the Park. The local BID members are giving $250,000 towards the renovation (I gather they approve). Given the overwhelming disapproval of the Community towards the redesign plan of this historic park, and the City’s flawed and non-transparent “process,” I’d hope the Community Board members would realize that they ought to skip photo ops like this. Also in the picture is City Council Member Alan Gerson, which answers my question as to where he is.

*Judge Jane Solomon of New York State Supreme Court signed an order on May 7th in favor of the Union Square Community Coalition and granted a preliminary injunction preventing construction of a restaurant in the historic Union Square Pavilion (site of the first Labor Day March in the 1800’s).

There’s also the small detail that the New York City Parks Department stated to the court they were never quite sure they were putting in a restaurant anyway.

Despite NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe talking up his pet project (the restaurant) all over town, and applying for Building Permits, that all suddenly became “not yet final” and “subject to further administrative review” when they were forced to backpedal under oath in Court.

Danny Meyer (restauranteur and Union Square Partnership co-chair) signed an affidavit submitted to the court saying he did not intend to bid on the restaurant. This confused other blogs and news sites, such as Curbed, Eater and Lost City, who all linked to my report on this, and thought it was a done deal. Eater checked with Meyer and a spokesperson said “Trust the affidavit.” Okay…

*Thursday night May 8th was the Brooklyn BlogFest!

*Artist William Glackens painted 20 pictures of Washington Square Park between 1909 and 1914. His scenes record the mixing of social classes that occurred in NYC.

*******************************************
— Happy Birthday to my amazing sister, Susan! —