Union Sq. Park Court Date!

Hearing Information:
Monday December 8, 2008 – 3:00pm
New York State Supreme Court
60 Centre Street, Room 432 (which is part 55)
Justice Jane S. Solomon
Oral arguments will be heard at 3:00.

We are encouraging the public to attend the hearing. A strong showing would be helpful. Background: Union Square Park Pavilion Litigation. In April 2008, the Union Square Community Coalition filed a lawsuit (USCC v. NYC Parks, Index No. 08/105578) challenging the Parks Department and Union Square Partnership’s plans to install a restaurant in the historic pavilion. The court issued a preliminary injunction, which prevents the operation of a restaurant, or the installation of fixtures for a restaurant, pending further order of the Court. In so doing, the court found that USCC is likely to prevail on its central claim  that without state legislative approval, the restaurant would be an unlawful alienation of parkland  once that claim is ripe. The City has moved to dismiss the case, claiming it is both unripe (because, allegedly, several steps remain in the process before a restaurant concession could be offered) and non-meritorious.

Feast or Famine in Union Square!

*THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18TH, 6:00PM, GEORGE WASHINGTON STATUE.

Are you hungry for public space? Do you want to cook up some change?
The campaign to stop the privatization of Union Square Park’s Pavilion continues! The court injunction against the conversion of that historic building into a private, upscale restaurant remains in place, but we need to continue to PUSH BACK against this scheme, and make sure that this magnificent public space REMAINS PUBLIC!

SO COME OUT TO PLAY IN YOUR PUBLIC SPACE!
Let’s give Danny Meyer and the Union Square Partnership their just deserts. While they feast at their PRIVATE, big-ticket, dinner in our PUBLIC park (harvestinthesquare.org), we’ll be surrounding the pricey party tent, banging on our empty pots and pans, demanding that they keep their hands off our public spaces. Bring your own pot and something to bang with! Meet us at the George Washington statue on the south end, at 6:00pm. This action will be brief, to the point, and festive. Come out and Play!

More Info: http://www.unionsquarenotforsale.org

Push-Back Picnic: huge success!

We couldn’t be happier with Wednesday’s push-back picnic: hundreds of folks from the Union Square community and beyond came out to celebrate the natural right of our public space.

There was indeed watermelon. And theater. And action. The tide is turning, thanks to you and your ongoing support to hold on to what we hold most dear.

More reactions from around the interweb:

PUSH-BACK PICNIC

WEDNESDAY, JULY 2ND
6:00PM – UNION SQUARE
Inside the north end by the Abe Lincoln statue
FREE (as a park party should be!)

Friends and Neighbors,

Celebrate this year’s national nativity party ye olde fashioned way…

COME TO THE PUSH BACK PICNIC, JULY 2ND, 6:00PM, BY THE ABE LINCOLN STATUE (There will be Watermelon.)

As the nation prepares to celebrate it’s 232nd Birthday, and the Union Square BID (Business Improvement District) prepares to privatize the LANDMARKED Pavilion building, come join the Community Improvement District (CID), along with your favorite radical heroes of Union Square for an olde tyme hoedown and radical auction action. Make a bid on your favorite national chain store franchise! Dance circles around stodgy, stogie-smoking, sell-out politicians! Marvel as the park pushes back against the greedy takeover artists!

Let’s push back the privatizers and keep Union Square a place for public gatherings, public rallies, and public play! PUSH BACK THE BID! UNION SQUARE IS NOT FOR SALE!

Keep public parks public!

Quilty sent us a selection of gorgeous pictures from yesterday’s rally. After the pics, check out links to more folks that passed on their work… (Be sure to tag your media with saveunionsquare2008 so we can find it!)

Links to more photos:

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Saving Union Square, one banner at a time

From yesterday evening at the pavilion with Reverend Billy:

SAVE UNION SQUARE – Banner Drop from Xris Spider on Vimeo.

And just a reminder: come out tonight for the big Rally + Surprise Party at 5pm! Meet us at the NW corner of Union Square. Join us — marching bands, hoola hoopers, soapbox preachers, park lovers, green growers, sun tanners, art vendors, likely a wingnut or two, and a walking tour performance by the ghosts of Union Square past. And Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Gentrifying!

Union Square Renovation FAQ

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  1. Who approved the renovation project?
  2. Who started the renovation project?
  3. What’s going on with the renovation?
  4. Why a lawsuit?
  5. What is the likely outcome of the lawsuit?
  6. What will the restaurant be like?
  7. What happened to the trees?
  8. Who is paying for the restaurant?
  9. Who will profit from the restaurant?
  10. Didn’t there use to be a restaurant here?
  11. Why not have a restaurant?
  12. Why did Rosie Mendez support this?
  13. Who is the BID?
  14. Who are we?
  1. Who approved the renovation project?

    CB 2 Council Member Rosie Mendez supports privatization of the pavilion. Amongst elected representatives of the area, only she and Christine Quinn’s rubber stamp stand on this side of the issue.

  2. Who started the renovation project?The local Business Improvement District (BID) designed and lobbied for this renovation and has joined with the Park Department. No community group supports the restaurant plan, in more than 4 years of public discourse not a single person has come forward in support of the plan who was not directly connected to the BID (Union Square Partnership).
  3. What’s going on with the renovation?The plans for the renovation of the north end of Union Square project were put forth in 2004, and then amended in 2006 through significant community activism. There is currently an injunction against any further restaurant construction on the site.
  4. Why a lawsuit?The Parks Department and the BID failed to obtain permission to put a private, non-park entity on park land from the state legislature. The BID and the Parks Department claim it is not a clear case of alienation; the plaintiffs in the case, the Union Square Community Coalition, are making the case that it is.
  5. What is the likely outcome of the lawsuit?There is no written law about alienation, therefore the judge makes the decision based entirely on precedents, and relies almost entirely on his/ her discretion. Still, the case is a good one if the judge pays attention to the facts.
  6. What will the restaurant be like?Plans are for a tablecloth restaurant with more than 100 seats; detailed plans for the project had to be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These plans reveal that the restaurant will use at least 4000 square feet including indoor dining area (1500), kitchen (1900), and bathrooms (600) and that does not include the outdoor dining and patio areas, which are the centerpiece of the expansion into the park and are clearly visible in architectural renderings.
  7. What happened to the trees?14 trees were cut down altogether: four of them 80-year-old elms, one of which was slightly ill.
  8. Who is paying for the restaurant?The restaurant plan is being paid for by an anonymous $7.1 million donation.
  9. Who will profit from the restaurant? It is unknown who will profit from the restaurant, or who the proprietor will be. The BID, the Parks Department, and City Council member Rosie Mendez are all protecting this information.
  10. Didn’t there use to be a restaurant here?The previous restaurant, Luna Park, was installed in 1992; prior to that the pavilion was used for children’s play space & educational purposes. The current plan includes a net loss of more than two thousand feet children’s play space.
  11. Why not have a restaurant?Union Square has the highest density of restaurants and the lowest density of public space in the whole city. Also, we don’t think people should be able to profit from the use of public space at this level.
  12. Why did Rosie Mendez support this?Rosie Mendez claims that money earmarked by her predecessor Margarita Lopez would disappear if not used immediately. There is no evidence that this is the case.
  13. Who is the BID?Union Square Partnership is made up of members of many businesses in the area. Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the Union Square Partnership, is Mike Bloomberg’s former press secretary.

    Danny Meyer is the co-chair of the board of the BID; he is famous for privatizing parks around New York City. It is not coincidental that this plan depends on the mayor’s funding allocations, or on less-than-transparent deals.

  14. Who are we?Union Square: Not For Sale is a group of NYC citizens trying to save The Pavilion from privatization, keep public parks public, and demand transparency from our elected officials.