Author Archives: saveunionsquare2008

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!

What’s Going On?

THE CURRENT SITUATION is that a judge will make a ruling very soon (we are desperately trying to find out when) that will determine whether or not the Parks Department will be required to put their plans for a restaurant before the state legislature.
This succinct Gothamist article sums up the situation quite well.
A really sharp analysis of the situation can be read here
The Background:

Here’s the skinny: after letting the pavilion building fall into disrepair for over a decade, the city government was finally ready to pony up the cash to repair the building and return it to public use. Before the city could even complete their own plans, the Union Square Business Improvement District, or BID, going by the euphamistic name “The Union Square Partnership” (led by corporate chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and Whole Foods) got involved, dangling wads of extra (anonymously donated) cash, and before you know it the plans that emerged took on a decidedly unfriendly tone, particularly if you happen to be an artist selling your work, a farmer selling food, a child looking for a place to play, or any citizen who might want to just sit down in the park without having to purchase a $5.00 latté.

The BID plan will widen the street on the west side of the square by approximately 12 feet, and put up a wide concrete barrier and a line of trees on the north, greatly reducing the space for the Farmer’s Market forcing them to push into space previously occupied by artists (this is the divide and conquer strategy, as old as Machiavelli). Furthermore, the Pavilion, an icon of free speech and free assembly that was most recently used as a children’s play area, is slated to be turned into a swanky restaurant (with extensive outdoor seating that will further encroach on the open area at the north end of the park). This is just about the last thing this particular neighborhood needs. In combination, these two developments will pretty much eliminate Union Square North as a viable place for public assembly. Without public space to peaceably assemble, the First Amendment is meaningless. Furthermore, this area of the city has the least amount of playground space in the entire city. The Pavilion should be used as children’s play space AND for community activities, including music, art exhibitions, and free theater. Instead, the BID and Bloomberg plan on giving us another pricey restaurant in a neighborhood that’s full of them. How did this happen?
Mayor Mike’s buddy, Danny Meyer, the owner of the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park, as well as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, is the head of the Union Square Partnership. He is a primary backer of this plan. Meyer and his backers found willing partners in the offices of the corporate chains that surround the park. And why not? Fewer farmers means more business for Whole Foods. Fewer artist-vendors means more knick-knack sales for Barnes and Noble. We suspect that the “anonymous” donation that greased the wheels of this back room deal came from Danny Meyer, or from one of his backers. We also suspect that the future swanky restaurant in the Pavilion might just be run by Mr. Meyer himself. But of course this is all speculation, because THERE IS NO TRANSPARENCY IN THE PROCESS. We don’t know how such a crap plan got put together, with no meaningful community input. We just know that they were able to get it passed, and that they even got Rosie Mendez to sign off on it. They bought off her and some of the opposition by promising to expand the children’s playground, a classic bait and switch tactic to obscure the reality of this plan: they are decreasing the size of the park, giving it over to cars and to private businesses.
What we want to see is a park FOR THE PEOPLE. A bigger playground for kids sounds great. How about opening up the courtyard to the south of the Pavilion too? How about using the Pavilion itself as a museum to the very important history of Union Square? Or maybe an indoor daycare center? Or maybe both? Let’s have a transparent, public process to determine the future of this important public space.
And who in their right mind wants to see two more lanes of traffic on the north end of Union Square?
If you want to find out more, check out http://www.revbilly.com/blog