Monday, December 19, 2011

Updated: Special WSVTA Meeting with Council Member Chin

Originally posted on December 3, 2011:


Please come to a special WSVTA meeting where Councilmember Margaret Chin will hear your questions, concerns and advocacy regarding the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan.

If You Are Concerned About:
-       Loss of Open, Green and Playground Space
-       Living in a Construction Site for 18 – 20 Years
-       Toxicity and Health Risks
-       Construction Dust, Noise and Equipment
-       High Density of People
-       Loss of Views, Sunlight, Privacy and Safety

Let your voice be heard!  It's important you attend this meeting!  And email
Councilmember Margaret Chin at:

Because NYU is installing new playground equipment in the Key Park, there is some confusion that the playground will not be built on it, but that is not true.  According to the NYU 2031 Plan, a temporary gym is slated to be built in the Key Park in 2013.

Who:    Councilmember Margaret Chin
Where:  Washington Square Village Tenant Association (WSVTA) Meeting,
              4 WSV, #1D, (Creative Steps Playroom)
When:   Tuesday, December 6, 2011 @ 7:00 p.m.

Washington Square Village Tenant Association (WSVTA)  (email:
Save WSV Sasaki Garden Committee
Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2)  (NYU 2031 Plan on website)
Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031
Greenwich Village Society Historical Preservation, Andrew Berman, Director

*Did you know that Greenwich Village has the second lowest amount of open, green, playground space in New York City?

--- --- ---
Updated December 19, 2011:
Co-Executive Anne Hearn introduced special guests, Councilmember Margaret Chin, her director of land use and planning, Matt Viggiano, and Terri Cude, co-chair of Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031 (CAAN2031).  The seven-month ULURP process starting January 2012.  For information on the NYU 2031 Plan see or

MARGARET CHIN SAID THE MAIN PRINCIPLE IS FIGHTING TO MAINTAIN THE GREEN STRIPS.   Along with saving open, green space, the green strips help to preserve the zoning on the two core blocks.  Ms. Chin is interested in preserving housing and affordable housing.  She acknowledged the emails she has received about saving the Key Park and the Sasaki (courtyard) Garden. There is a great need for open space.  We all need to work together.  505 LaGuardia is dealing with renegotiating their land lease for 2013.  (They have engaged an attorney.)  Councilmember Chin says that what makes NYU unique and special is not that they have a self-contained campus, but that NYU's campus is all of New York City.  Students can live all over NYC and come to NYU because they want to live in New York City and Greenwich Village.  Organizing must continue. Make sure to come out and support us.

THE NYU FACULTY IS RESOLUTELY OPPOSED TO THE NYU 2031 PLAN.  Even faculty who do not live in the core blocks.  This is not an NYU Plan; it's Sexton's plan.

SILVER TOWERS DEAL.  A speaker said that some Silver Tower residents met with representatives from John Sexton's office.  They were told that the NYU 2031 Plan was a "done deal" and we can only hope for mitigation, like 18 instead of 20 floors.

THE GARDEN IS NOT AN AMENITY; IT'S A NECESSITY AND SHOULD NOT BE DESTROYED.  There will be grave public health problems with 18 - 20 years of construction.  Green spaces provide clean air and a green eco-system for healthy living.  There are elder, young, even bachelors, who need and use this open space.  Let them build downtown where they are wanted.  It's within walking distance and two subway stops away.  This is just a grandiose plan.  

WHAT CAN TENANTS/COMMUNITY DO TO STOP THE TRANSFER OF THE DOT GREEN STRIPS TO NYU?  What kind of financial agreement is being entered into between NYU and government official to buy (or give) public green strips to NYU?  What's particularly troubling is using taxpayer money to destroy public space for private use against public opposition.  Matt Viggiano spoke to how the process of transference of public land, such as the green strips, to private entities must be approved by City Planning.  A real estate appraiser comes out makes an appraisal, a one time purchase cost is assessed, an easement would cost less, like with the CoGeneration Plant across the street.  The term would be for 10 years and would be in the double digits.  Because NYU is a non-profit, the lease would cost less. 

BUILDINGS DO NOT MAKE A GREAT EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION.  A woman said her husband was a NYU commuter student in the 1950s and received an excellent education.
BUILDINGS OF THIS SIZE WERE ALLOWED BECAUSE THERE WAS OPEN/GREEN SPACE TO COMPENSATE FOR THEFT OF SUNLIGHT AND PROBLEMS WITH HIGH DENSITY HOUSING.  The speaker has a baby who will live in construction until she enters college. To subject a child to a lifetime of construction is inhumane.  Several speakers spoke to this concern of subjecting their families and children to 18 - 20 years of construction, along with toxicity, health risks, noise, dust, and dangerous construction equipment.   Another speaker emphasized his concern for the toxicity of the construction on his family and other tenants.  Take the trucks and bulldozers and go to an underdeveloped site and build there. 

ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  NYU started bus routes on W. 3rd Street where 200 buses were stopping everyday.  Third Street is residential and the NYU buses caused problems with congestion, traffic, air quality, noise.  Nobody could do anything about it.  Then one person, the head of the City Council Transportation Committee, took such offense that he called a special Transportation Committee meeting and resolved the problem.  Speaker wants to encourage Councilmember Chin to make a difference.

MARGARET CHIN SAYS THE CITY COUNCIL DEFERS TO THE LOCAL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER.  Ms. Chin said she will talk to other City Councilmembers and advocate for her constituents.  She also said important to take a look at the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) which will be available online soon at the NYU website ( or CB2 (

THE OPPONENT IS NOT NYU OR SEXTON BUT THE NYU BOARD OF TRUSTEES.  Sexton is only the spokesman for the NYU Board of Trustees and the Board is heavily populated with real estate and development interests.  How do these real estate moguls make money on the 2031 Plan?  Follow the money.

WITHOUT THE GREEN STRIPS OR ZONING CHANGE NYU CANNOT BUILD.  A GLSD (General Large Scale Development) can only be set up in a commercial or manufacturing district not a residential district which is one reason NYU wants to change the zoning.  The Zoning Resolution says if you want to build high, you have to have so much Open Space to Floor Area, known as the Floor Area Ratio (FAR).  If you don't have enough lot area to build on to support the FAR, then you have to combine lots, so the GLSD lot area can be supported.  One lot is a LSRD (Large Scale Residential Development).  The Silver Towers block is a LSRD.  What NYU wants to do is put in so much floor area, that even the highest residential zoning R8 can't support it.  So they want to put together the Silver Towers block with the WSV block and make it a GLSD.  The rule about GLSD is that you can't get a GLSD if there are any existing building on the lots unless you're in a C6-2 zone which is commercial zoning.  If you're in a C6-2 zone, and if the footprint of existing buildings occupy less than 15% of the land, then they can go ahead and build.  But if more than 15%, it's no good.  On the two Superblocks the existing buildings occupy 17.6% of the lot area, so NYU wouldn't be able to get a GLSD.  NYU had sought a transference of the green strips to them from the DOT (Department of Transportation).  If NYU has the the green strips, then the existing buildings would occupy just under 15% of the existing area.  (The audience said "aaaah.")  Last year there was a large turnout for a rally to protest NYU's plans to take over the green strips that was attended and supported by our elected officials -- Margaret Chin, Scott Stringer, Deborah Glick, Tom Duane and Jerrold Nadler.  (All the above official endorsed CB2's resolution following this rally urging the transfer of the green strips from DOT to Parks.)  NYU appeared to realize they were not going to get the green strips and changed their plan.  They decided not to ask for C6-2 but instead for a C1-7 which didn't make sense because it doesn't allow for any existing building.  So can only conclude that NYU is going to seek major amendments to the Zoning Resolution.  Not only would the zoning resolution amendments allow them to build, it would also impact and weaken the zoning of all neighborhoods in New York City.  Tenants and the community must challenge the green strips transference and any zoning changes during the ULURP process.
MS. CHIN SAID OUR ADVERSARIES ARE GOOD AT BAIT AND SWITCH.   Probably never had an intent of building a hotel, but horrified the community and then pretended to cede the point while still keeping the bulk of their plan.

WSV FIRST AND SECOND FLOOR RETAIL SPACE is included in the current version of NYU 2031 Plan and there is a concern with safety.

DESTRUCTION OF THE KEY PARK was a concern stated by a parent of a child.  The playground serve an underserved population of children.  No children or parents of children of WSV, Silver Towers or the community wants to see the destruction of the Key Park.  Even NYU students are against destroying the Key Park.

DESTRUCTION OF GARDEN AND BIRD HABITAT.  The speaker has an apartment overlooking the garden and over the years has observed different bird species, including robins, cardinals, and mockingbirds (New York State bird).  The pleasure of waking up to the cardinals singing, and this will be destroyed, along with their habitat.

VISION FOR AND OF THE COMMUNITY.  Not a cynical destruction of a community.  The original concept of WSV was to create a residential community with trees, a garden.  It makes a community what it is--what makes it residential.

CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES AND INCREASED POPULATION DENSITY WILL INCREASE TRAFFIC AND POLLUTION PROBLEMS.  Even the subway will be packed.  Like the Transportation Committee head, one person can make a monumental change.

APPRECIATE NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED VALUABLE NEIGHBORHOOD.  A woman who grew up on the LES had assumed that urban living was bleak.  But her family moved here and she was in awe on how nice a community can be and must be protected.  Then her mother, a legendary public housing advocate who has trained generations of housing advocates, including Margaret Chin, and has known Margaret for twenty years.  "She will work hard.  Margaret will not let you down."

WHY NOT SPEND MORE TIME CONVINCING NYU TO GO DOWNTOWN?  WHY NOT CONSIDER GOING DOWNTOWN?  WSVTA asked Councilmember Chin why NYU does not consider going downtown where the space needs could be met without destroying the superblocks.  It would boost the economy of Lower Manhattan.

GOVERNOR'S ISLAND AND BELOW CANAL STREET.  Councilmember Chin said Governor's Island had been offered as an alternative site to NYU.  NYU said no because Governor's Island needed infrastructure and utilities, but infrastructure and utilities would be in place in a couple of years.  NYU missed out on a chance to run a city-built university biotech facility on Roosevelt Island.  Their mentality is:  We own this land; this is our territory.  We are looking at all opportunity to push them back.  Below Canal there are many opportunities for economic development, that NYU could be an economic engine for surrounding stores, merchants, restaurants.

SAVE THE WSV SASAKI GARDEN COMMITTEE spoke on saving the historic urban garden, one of the first rooftop gardens, designed by renown landscape architect Hideo Sasaki.  The Committee has designed a booklet and a blog ( about the Sasaki Garden.  Please go to our blog.  The Garden was designed as a peaceful urban oasis for residents and community.  If there is a zoning change, all New York communities are vulnerable to overdevelopment.

TEMPORARY GYM BUILT IN KEY PARK 2013. The most immediate and pressing problem is the proposed building of the temporary gym in the Key Park, slated for 2013.  (ADDENDUM.  NYU's plan to relocate the Key Park into the Sasaki Garden never adequately addresses the fact that the playground would be half its current size, plus the playground would be sited in a dark, gloomy, sunless area, up against tenant apartments.  The plan also destroys the Mercer Playground and sites a small tricycle park in a quarter of the current space, again with no sunlight.)

The WSVTA January meeting TBA.  Check our website for newly posted information at
Respectfully submitted, December 2011    

1 comment:

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