Is it in the zeitgeist? Are issues attached to privatized parks once again receiving some degree of scrutiny?
Is the only way this happens via lawsuits and media attention?
The Brooklyn Heights Association is now seeking a court order to annul the June decision to go ahead with the [Pier 6] development and to require another environmental review before anything further proceeds. The petition argues that the development as planned would “take much-needed land that should be an important part of the Park (its entrance), exacerbate the dramatic overcrowding in the community’s schools, which are already in crisis, and loom incongruously over the adjacent low-rise neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.”
As far as the petition’s legal claims go, they’re pretty knotty, but essentially the BHA [Brooklyn Heights Association] is arguing that the plan as stated doesn’t comply with the legal restrictions that govern any development at the park and points out that the environmental review conducted for the project took place in 2005, so may now be out of date. It also alleges that BBPC [Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation] broke its own rule not to consider or award a contract to developers not registered with a database of companies doing business with the city.
A Queens City Councilman is slapping Mayor de Blasio with a lawsuit charging that he was illegally shut out of a conservancy formed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Councilman Rory Lancman says de Blasio barred him from choosing a board member because he’s not a political pal — and broke city law that requires such conservancies to have a rep for each Council district that covers part of the park.
“I represent almost half of Flushing Meadows Park, and because I’m not a political ally of the mayor…I don’t get an appointment,” Lancman said. “It’s a private, off the books scheme for funding projects in Flushing Meadows Park without the representation that is required.” …
Lancman said he’s worried that without power on the board, his constituents will get the short end of the stick on maintenance and improvement projects at the heavily used but often neglected park.
“Flushing Meadows-Corona Park needs a tremendous amount of work, and how are these decisions going to be made?” he said. “There’s an old saying in politics — if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”
Council Member Lancman told the Times-Ledger:
“Flushing Meadows Corona Park belongs to the public, and the public has a right to a transparent funding process and their full say in how funding decisions are made,” Lancman said. “Instead the de Blasio administration has created yet another shadowy quasi-governmental entity to evade public scrutiny and reward its political allies with governmental favors.”
This is happening across the city with these privatized models – a continuing evasion of public scrutiny and the rewarding of political allies – but, of course, it does not just apply to “political allies” but those of the affluent class: corporate, real estate and wealthy funders getting undue access to our public parks.
Love that quote: “…if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”
Issues with private conservancies exist city-wide; these organizations have gained extreme traction without true representation from the communities they exist in. Contrary to what Council Member Lancman believes, it really does not matter, for the most part, if a City Council Member or a Community Board Member is on the Board: by the time it gets to that point, whoever is appointed, is pretty much in line with the whole privatized model and what it represents.
Bill de Blasio as Public Advocate was looking out for Washington Square Park as far as the whole conservancy kerfuffle but seems to have forgotten the real issues now as Mayor.
Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:
Top Photo: Jason Decrow/Associated Press
Bottom Photo: Angus Mordant/New York Daily News