In the News… Daily News' Juan Gonzalez: "Mayor Bloomberg's Union Square Park Restaurant Deal Tasteless"

Juan Gonzalez has an excellent piece in today’s New York Daily News: “Mayor Bloomberg’s Union Square Park Restaurant Deal Tasteless.”

Gonzalez writes:

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.

Gonzalez continues:

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.

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3 thoughts on “In the News… Daily News' Juan Gonzalez: "Mayor Bloomberg's Union Square Park Restaurant Deal Tasteless"”

  1. What is next, privatizing the Statue of Liberty? Excellent list of shady deals and add the multi-millionaire dollar “improvement” to Washington Square Park which would improve the real estate value of the number one real estate magnate NYU University. Hmmm, I wonder who the anonymous donor is for this Union Square Park Deal is? The population is rising and if anything we need more space for children to play not a private restaurant to eat in a park that was designed for the people of New York to have some respite and ironically Union Square historically is a place for people to speak up, not for an elite few to sit down and dine. All these “deals” show having powerful friends comes with big benefits in NYC at the expense of the New Yorkers struggling to continue to live here.

  2. Juan hits the nail on the head. The privatization of the parks involves bulldozing Washington Square Park and others, enclosing public space (reducing it, the better to control (i.e., to “permit”) what goes on there), tearing down 60-year-old trees (nearing 60 myself, I’m particularly touchy about that!), busting up natural habitats, replacing natural grass with synthetic turf, and selling off “naming rights” for various structures. (We should change the name of the rebuilt “Tisch Fountain” to the “Pisch” fountain in Washington Square Park, and everyone pee in it when it opens.) This is going on all over the City.
    – Mitchel Cohen, Green Party


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