Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Union Square Park Reno Halted!


What was a nice playground

Geoffrey Croft, President of NYC Park Advocates has been successful in his bid to obtain a temporary restraining order to halt, at least until a hearing Monday, the demolition relating to the Union Square Park makeover. As of yesterday, the demolition and digging has ceased. According to the judge, there is validity in the argument that usurping public park space for private use is an action that requires state approval.
I am quickly changing my mind on this project. The allure and promise of more playground space and improved facilities sounds great, but something smells awfully fishy about the project. First is the anonymous donor who is providing $5 Million towards the $20 Million project. That donor is widely suspected to be Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame. It is also widely suspected that he would get the nod to run the restaurant in the park. None of this can be confirmed, but the lack of transparency only fuels suspicion. Second, the work seemed to have been proceeding at breakneck speed. In just over 2 weeks fencing was erected all over the north side of the park, jersey barriers installed, 2 playgrounds completely levelled, pavement stripped, a pit dug, and more. Everyone knows that the City just doesn't work this fast- raising more suspicion. Additionally, it seems that info on the actual design is sparse at best- just Google it and you'll see what I mean. I promise to look into this issue further. From a gut feeling, it just seems like the project is getting railroaded and something is not adding up. Hopefully the courts take a serious and objective look before anything further is done.
Judge Blocks Overhaul Of Union Square Park (NY Times)

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