On the heels of the “hot dog” vendor victory, the farewell to Mike Bloomberg, and a New Year with a New Mayor, news rolled in late yesterday that State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills in Manhattan ruled that New York City had violated rules set in place to protect parkland when it gave New York University the go-ahead to proceed on its mammoth expansion plans. Mills stated that by approving NYU’s plans (“NYU 2031”) which included gobbling up designated parkland, this was “alienation of parkland” and requires New York State legislature approval to move forward. There is now a back and forth between those who filed the court case against NYU’s expansion, plaintiffs include NYU faculty and Village community organizations, and NYU spokespeople. NYU’s position has been that this “parkland” isn’t really parkland.
The New York City Council in passing the plan, following local Council Member Margaret Chin’s lead (Chin had famously told the community at a meeting a few years back, “If you have my back, I have your back!”), ignored this whole component. Opponents say that this ruling means NYU has to go back to the drawing board; NYU says this is not so. But, of course, we know to take NYU statements as a bit of spin.
What’s next in 2014? No private conservancy at Washington Square Park?! As we know, the Conservancy founders had been meeting secretly with NYU higher ups for months. NYU being brought on as silent partner with regards to their plans and concealed agenda, something they neglected at any point to mention to the public.
Coverage of the story:
New York Post, Judge Says NYC broke the law in NYU Expansion Plan:
A Manhattan judge all but halted New York University’s controversial expansion plan Tuesday, ruling that the city broke the law by giving away public parkland without state approval.
The case, brought by Greenwich Village activists in 2012 drew support from local celebrities including Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon and Padma Lakshmi.
“NYU’s massive expansion project now cannot go forward, absent State Legislative approval, and that is never going to happen. End of story,” crowed the neighborhood advocates’ attorney, Randy Mastro.
“This is a huge victory for the Greenwich Village community, preserving this historic neighborhood and protecting its cherished, precious parkland.”
Manhattan Supreme Justice Donna Mills said construction on the $6 billion, 20-year plan that alters the green space cannot begin until Albany lawmakers OK the removal of the park space.
Actor Matthew Broderick told The Post outside court last February:
“I grew up on Washington Square. NYU has just taken more and more of what I think of as a unique and important part of the Village where a huge amount of creativity has come from,” Broderick said.
The City Council greenlighted the project in the summer of 2012.
But Justice Mills ruled in a 78-page decision that the city “alienated public parkland without approval by the New York State legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine.”
City lawyer Chris Reo said, “We just received and are reviewing the decision.”
A spokesman for NYU downplayed the loss, saying that the ruling still allows the university to move forward on an initial project — building a new academic space on a site that currently houses athletic facilities.
“Once we have a chance to thoroughly review the decision with our planning team and determine the precise impact of the ruling on our ability to implement other elements of the plan, we will work with the City, as lead respondent, to determine our next legal steps,” said spokesman John Beckman.
New York Observer: NYU Expansion Plan Hits a Roadblock: Legislative Approval Required
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Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:
NYU’s Marketing of Washington Square Equals $$$ February 28, 2011