Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo: Memorial to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

"Garden Struggle" in The Villager

So much information packed into a short article about the struggle for the life of the WSV Sasaki Garden!
Meanwhile, though we know intense negotiations between all parties are currently ongoing, we asked Councilmember Margaret Chin for an official statement on N.Y.U. 2031. Her position will be critical when the Council takes its vote in mid-July. From the sound of it, she’s hearing what the community is saying — and feels that residents’ concerns “come first.” “Right now, I am focused on bringing the best possible proposal in front of the Council,” Chin told us. “This is a give-and-take process, and N.Y.U. needs to modify their proposal. I have made it known that the amount of density that has been proposed is out of scale with the surrounding community. I want a plan that residents can live with first, and that N.Y.U. can live with second.”
Read the entire article at

TODAY June 28th: Memorial for the WSV Sasaki Garden


NYU Cancelled its 1PM Press Event


We have just been informed that NYU has CANCELLED their planned 1pm press event, intended to showcase their expansion plan to the media in advance of tomorrow’s City Council hearing and press conference by opponents. We know that the university got word of our planned picket, and likely cancelled the event rather than risk having their slanted presentation of their plan challenged before the assembled media. Since there will apparently be no NYU media presentation, our picket is off!

So instead of going to the NYU Open House at 1pm, please write and call City Councilmembers now in advance of tomorrow’s hearing; prepare your 2-minute testimony (use letters as a sample), and ask friends and neighbors to come to the steps of City Hall at 8:15 am tomorrow for the 8:30 press conference, and to the 9:30 City Council hearing inside to follow (info HERE). You may also want to join at 5 pm today for a demonstration against NYU’s proposed demolition of the Sasaki Garden at Washington Square Village as part of their expansion plan – see

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Myths vs. Facts: NYU 2031

Myths vs. Facts: What NYU Says about its 2031 Plan vs. The Truth about the NYU 2031 Plan prepared by the Office of Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick based on discussions and input from community members and groups.

NYU Says: it’s increasing public open space.

The Truth is: the City’s definition of open space requires a bench to be present to be deemed open space. Existing lawns and gardens without a bench don’t’ technically qualify as open space and so their loss isn’t taken into account. Even when any rational person would recognize these dramatic changes as a loss of open space, the rules allow NYU to make this specious claim.

TODAY on WNYC: NYU Professors on Expansion Plan

Segment link:

From the Leonard Lopate show webpage:
As the City Council prepares to vote on NYU's controversial expansion plan, 34 of the University's academic departments and divisions have passed resolutions against the plan, including the Stern School of Business and the Economics Department. Three faculty members: Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, and Ann Pellegrini, Professor of Performance Studies and Religious Studies, explain their concerns, and look at how corporate influence is affecting higher education in general.

Contact Information for Elected & Appointed Officials

New Resources:

Contact Information for City Council 

Contact Information for Mayor's Office, BPs, and State & Fed Elected Officials 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Photos of Hideo Sasaki

Hideo Sasaki's nephew, Ralph Swain, has generously shared several photographs of this uncle with Save the WSV Sasaki Garden.  We share them with you below.

Monday, June 25, 2012

3 Things To Do This Week to Help Defeat NYU2031

From the co-chairs of Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031:

> Today (Monday, June 25): Call your Councilmember (and/or the Committee and/or the whole Council) on Monday, June 25 to let them know you OPPOSE the NYU 2031 land grab.

Who’s Who of the City Council

The City Council consists of 51 members but the following five members are critical in the ULURP voting process on. The City Council's only public hearing on the NYU 2031 plan will be held on Friday, June 29th. Today, June 25th, Phone ZAP the City Council.

TODAY, June 25th: Phone Zap the City Council

Per GVSHP, call City Councilmembers next Monday, the 25th to urge them to vote 'NO' on the NYU plan. Phone numbers and a script are HERE and printed below:


They are ranked in the order of importance for you to call; call all fifty-one if you can.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reason #1 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #1:

The Garden is nature in the city.  It is nearby nature for  Washington Square Village (WSV) and community kids.  Children regularly use the garden, in addition to adults.  "Direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults" argues Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.  The Garden provides opportunities for more imaginative and unstructured play in contrast to formal playgrounds.  It is the backyard for so many children.  Children find bugs, watch birds, chase squirrels, track chipmunks (a chipmunk was sighted by two different people this spring), gaze at butterflies and bees, climb trees, imagine bear dens and pirate forts in the shrubs, stage performances on the concrete platforms under the dogwood and roses, run though the leaves in the fall, pretend the fallen crabapple petals are snowflakes, and more.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

N.Y.U. is risking its intellectual and fiscal health

From a June 21st article written by an NYU faculty member published in The Villager:
As of this spring, 34 N.Y.U. departments, divisions and schools and counting have voted in support of individual resolutions staunchly opposing N.Y.U. 2031, in its massive size, density and cost. The departments expressing their lack of confidence in the expansion range from Economics (which includes no fewer than three Nobel Prize winners), Politics, History, Art History, English, Comparative Literature, Classics, French Studies and Music, to Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Entire schools and centers voting against the plan include the Stern Business School (by an overwhelming count of 52 to 3, which should say something about the financial feasibility of the 2.1 million-square-foot, $4 billion-dollar-plus project), the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, the Silver School of Social Work and the Center for Neural Science.
Read the entire article at

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reason #2 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #2:

At 1.5 acres or 65,340 square feet, the Garden provides significant open space in the neighborhood. The Garden is publicly accessible open space in a district -- Community Board 2 -- with "one of the lowest percentages of open space in Manhattan," according to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's testimony to the City Planning Commission.  Community Board 2 has the second lowest

Monday, June 18, 2012

NYU 2031 = Upzoning

CAAN 2031 is refuting Dr. Alicia Hurley's claim that NYU is not seeking upzoning for its 20 Year Expansion Plan. (Dr. Hurley is vice president of NYU Government Affairs & Civic Engagement.)
Be very clear – NYU cannot build their proposed buildings without changing the zoning. The superblocks currently have R7 zoning – the highest level of mid-density zoning and higher than most zoning in Greenwich Village. It is only found in the area on avenues or wide commercial thoroughfares like 8th Street. The commercial zone with which NYU seeks to blanket the two residential superblocks is the equivalent of R8 residential zoning (considered high-density), plus commercial allowed on the lower floors.

Bad Architecture: Could NYU 2031 be the next Fourth Ave?

Just as great architecture can lift the spirit, bad architecture can crush it.
In few parts of New York is this more the case than with the rash of new apartment buildings along Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue, the six-lane street that runs south from Atlantic Terminal and cleaves Park Slope from Gowanus. Because of bad decisions by Amanda Burden's City Planning Department and the profit-above-all-else motive of some developers, Brooklyn is going to be stuck for decades with this depressing wasteland of cheap materials and designs.
Read "Brooklyn's Burden: Fourth Avenue" in the Wall Street Journal (June 17, 2012)

Reason #3 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #3:

The Garden is more than a garden.  It is a green roof.  It is one of the first green roofs over a parking structure in the U.S. (see DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State and The Cultural Landscape Foundation).  Green roof installation is a water quality improvement strategy of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC sustainability plan. The City has established a Green Roof Tax Abatement for the private

June 29th: Rally City Council to Vote NO on NYU 2031

GVSHP and NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan will be holding a press conference/rally on the steps of City Hall on Friday the 29th at 8:30 am, prior to the City Council NYU hearing, displaying our opposition to the NYU plan and calling upon the City Council to vote ‘NO.’

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Photo: Sasaki Garden, April 1, 2012

We discovered some photographs of the Sasaki Garden at Washington Square Village on Flickr!  Check out this Flickr photoset:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reason #4 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #4:

The Garden was completed in 1959 by the landscape architecture firm of Sasaki, Walker and Associates (more about the landscape architecture later).  It is a landmark site.  It is a historic landscape.  It is a significant example of Modernist design.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Update: June 29th: City Council Hearing on NYU 2031

The City Council will hold its only hearing on NYU 2031 on Friday, June 29th at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.


PLEASE ask people to write and call City Councilmembers urging them to vote no – see and, and please send an e-mail to Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio thanking him for his rep on the City Planning Commission’s vote AGAINST the NYU plan –


One action that all of us, faculty, can and must take to convince the City Council to block the expansion is to call and/or write to the trio of Council Members who will no doubt prove to be the most influential in the political process going forward:

Speaker Christine C. Quinn
The New York City Council
224 West 30th Street, Suite #1206
New York, NY 10001
Tel.: 212-564-7757

Councilwoman Margaret Chin
The New York City Council
Chatham Green
165 Park Row, Suite #11
New York, NY 10038
Tel.: 212-587-3159

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez
The New York City Council
250 Broadway, Rm. 1734
New York, NY 10007
Tel.: 212-788-7366

A final name to add to our must-call list is that of Public Advocate Bill De Blasio:
Mr. Bill De Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York
1 Centre Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Constituent services: (212) 669-7250
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Reason #5 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #5:

The Garden is a wildlife habitat.  It provides food, water, space (territory), and shelter for birds, butterflies, squirrels, bees and other insects.  Numerous bird species use the Garden. Twelve species of birds have been photographed by Hubert J. Steed including Northern Cardinal, Mockingbird, Thrasher, Catbird, Mourning Dove, Pigeon, American Robin, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Sparrow (House & White-throated) and European Starling.

Mayoral Hopes Seen as Muting Quinn's Voice

The New York Times reporting on Council Member Quinn's position on the Chelsea Market rezoning controversy at  An excerpt from the article:
"....But she has remained silent on the biggest development issue unfolding in her own backyard, one favored by her big-money donors and real estate interests and hotly opposed by the neighborhood activists who helped propel her to prominence."

June 18th: Save The Villlage Benefit

For more details:

Transcript of CPC Vote on the NYU 2031 plan

The following transcript of the City Planning Commission’s discussion and vote on the NYU 2031 plan based on recordings of the proceedings was provided by the GVSHP. Thanks to a loyal reader for bringing this information to our attention.

Chair Burden:  Today the City Planning Commission is voting on four actions to facilitate the growth of New York University’s main campus in the Washington Square area. NYU is proposing to construct four new buildings to include academic space, a new athletic facility, student dorms, NYU faculty housing, and approximately four acres of public parks and publicly accessible open spaces. Throughout the public review process, including more than 10 hours of testimony at the Commission’s public hearing, we heard strong support for NYU’s need to grow and modernize its academic core in order to remain a globally competitive institution, an economic anchor for New York City. We also are deeply concerned about many stakeholders, including community members, local elected officials, regarding the scale of the proposal and the project’s potential effects on residents’ quality of life. Our challenge has been to determine how best to accommodate NYU’s physical space needs while at the same time addressing the land use impact and implications of the proposal.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reason #6 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #6:

The Garden is home to approximately 13 species of trees totaling 69 individual trees.  There are also numerous shrubs and herbaceous perennials thriving in the Garden.  These numbers do not account for all the vegetation growing in the courtyard of Washington Square Village.  There are 24 trees in the Key Park playground, 45 trees between the eastern edge of the Garden and Key Park, and 36 trees between the

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reason #7 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #7:

Last time we wrote about the psychological benefits of the Garden, but the Garden also provides physical comfort (i.e. shade) and reduces the urban heat island effect.  The Garden is a "shady haven" (Spirn, 1984) in the summer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reason #8 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #8:

The Garden contributes to our mental well-being.  Passive (looking out at, being still in) and active (children's play or Qi Gong) recreation  in the garden are therapeutic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reason #9 to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #9:

The Garden is the defining feature of Washington Square Village, a successful example of tower-in-the-park residential development model first developed by Le Corbusier in the 1920s.  Tower-in-the-park architecture is no longer en vogue among architects and planners.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Save the WSV Sasaki Garden

The top 10 reasons to save the WSV Sasaki Garden in 10 parts.

Reason #10:

The NYU 20-Year Expansion Plan contradicts the goals laid forth by Mayor Bloomberg and various city agencies in the form of PlaNYC, Million Trees NYC,  and NYC Green Infrastructure Plan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 7th: WNYC coverage of CPC Approval of NYU 2031

If you missed the show, listen to it hear at and don't forget to read the comments!

NYU 2031 Receives "Easy Approval" from CPC

"New York University reined in its expansion plans further today by eliminating a controversial hotel and accommodations for retail, paving the way for an easy approval from the City Planning Commission," begins The Local East Village article about the City Planning Commission (CPC) vote in favor of NYU 2031 (emphasis added).

Easy despite objections to the 20-year expansion plan by elected officials (here), Community Board 2 (here), community organizations (here) including a legal brief - the GVSHP Gibson Dunn Report (here), and approximately 1,394 pages from the public (here).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 5th: The WSJ on NYU 2031

The day before the CPC announced its vote of 12:1 in favor of NYU 2031, the Wall Street Journal published "NYU Tries to Move Ahead With Expansion." The interactive graphic used in the article is misleading and the reporter does not discuss the fact that NYU wants to take public land in order to achieve its development goals. Here's an excerpt from the article:
The construction will take two decades to carry out and will unquestionably create at least some disruption for students, faculty members and Village residents. Yet it will barely bring NYU—which is unique in that it doesn't have a campus and has thus faced decades of space constraints—in line with its top-flight peers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NYC Planning Commission Approves NYU2031 by 12:1

The New York City Planning Commission (CPC) voted 12:1 to approve NYU's 20 Year Expansion Plan with minor changes.  Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio's representative voted against the plan.  The recommended changes to the plan are:
  • The height of the proposed new buildings in Washington Square Village have been reduced
  • The commercial overlay for the blocks east of Washington Square has been eliminated
  • The hotel use has been eliminated from the proposed "Zipper" Building on Mercer Street
  • Some underground classroom space under what are currently publicly owned park spaces have been eliminated
Take Action:
Write City Councilmembers urging them to reject the NYU plan > >
Call City Councilmembers' offices urging them to reject the NYU plan > >
Thank Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio for his independence and for his City Planning Commission appointee voting AGAINST the plan -- e-mail him at!

For more details on the decision, readthe full letter from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation which is included below.  NYU's press release about the CPC decision can be read at

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Write to the City Council

You can write to all 51 members or you can write strategically to Council Members Quinn (Speaker), Chin (represents District 1), Weprin (chair of the Zoning Subcommittee), Comrie (chair of Land Use Committee), and Mendez (represents part of the Village, was on Borough President's NYU Task Force).  Contact information for these five council members are:

Council Speaker Christine Quinn (District 3)
224 West 30th St, Suite 1206
New York, NY 10001

Council Member Margaret Chin
Chatham Green
165 Park Row, Suite #11
New York, NY 10038

Council Member Mark Weprin (District 23)
73-03 Bell Boulevard
Oakland Gardens, NY 11364

Council Member Leroy Comrie (District 27)
113-43 Farmers Boulevard
St. Albans, NY 11412

Council Member Rosie Mendez (District 2)
237 First Ave
Suite 504
New York, NY 10003

Saturday, June 2, 2012

NYU Expansion Strikes the Perfect Balance?

In his May 31 article for The New York Observer, Matt Chaban quoted Amanda Burden on NYU 2031: "It’s perfectly balanced between the needs of the community and the needs of the university."  A day later, on June 1, the paper updated Chaban's article to reflect a statement from City Planning Department spokeswoman Rachaele Raynoff: "...the commission is still working on various modifications to NYU’s plan, and that is where the commissioner is striving to achieve a perfect balance."  Read the full article at