Stomp left its East Village stomping grounds today to help make some noise against NYU’s expansion efforts in Greenwich Village.
During a sort of pep rally on LaGuardia Place, politicians and community activists summoned last-minute support for a State Supreme Court decision now being appealed.
Last January, a State Supreme Court judge ruled that NYU’s plan to expand just south of Washington Square Park included three strips of “implied parkland” without proper approval. To build on this land, the school would first need to receive the go-ahead from the state legislature, according to Justice Donna Mills. Now, NYU and the City hope to see this ruling overturned, with the appeal processing kicking off in court today.
“In a city where parkland is few, and where so many individuals are suffering from asthma, in a city which is nothing more than an asphalt city,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, “We yearn, we want open space so that we can know who our community is and our neighborhoods.”
A number of politicians, including State Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senators Daniel Squadron and Brad Hoylman, echoed the calls to preserve open spaces, while also chastising university President John Sexton for pushing real estate development without hearing public outcry. Time and time again, those speaking at the rally called upon Mayor De Blasio to pull support of the appeal.
“This is really a fight for open space and a fight for responsible development and accountability and transparency,” said James. Ivy-filled garden beds and modern playgrounds enveloped the day’s pep rally, yet characterizing the other “implied parklands” as green spaces remains questionable. For instance, an expanse of asphalt constitutes the majority of Mercer Playground, which often houses the neighborhood’s homeless population.
Mills’ ruling failed to protect the concrete dogpark and padlocked playgrounds lying adjacent to the Coles Sport Center, NYU’s sports facility just north of Houston Street. For that reason, the school plans an 817,000 to 899,000 square foot building. The University Space Priorities Working Group, a committee of faculty and students who interviewed members of both the community and university, suggested such a building would help alleviate the school’s need for more academic space and housing. NYU’s opposition plans to fight this construction by citing a need for further environmental impact reports.
Stickers advertising “#KeepTheVillageGreen” and “#SaveTheVillage,” adorned bodies in the crowd, who also chanted “drop the appeal.” After the final speech, eight cast members of Stomp, a percussion and dance group, took center stage to rile up opposition one last time. As of now, the fate of these spaces lies in the hands of the State Supreme Court Appellate Division, expected to issue their decision in the coming weeks.