Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Results of Feb. 26th Hearing of Article 78 Case

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2013

Contact: Linda Cronin-Gross, LCG Communications: 718.853.5568; 917.767.1141;

NYU Expansion Plan Case:

Victory for Petitioners: Court Orders City, NYU to Respond to Petitioners’ Request for Discovery and Hearing on Issue of Parkland Giveaway in NYU Sexton Plan; Actor Matthew Broderick, Playwright Kenneth Lonergan Join Sexton Plan Opponents in Open Court

Petitioners in the NYU Sexton Expansion Plan case walked away with their first legal victory today, as State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills sided with them and ordered the City and NYU to “show cause” why petitioners’ request for a hearing and expedited discovery on their “parkland alienation” claim should be dismissed. Petitioners argued that the City’s approval of the NYU expansion plan was illegal because, among other things, it gave NYU rights over four public parks, in violation of state law, which requires, under the Public Trust Doctrine, that parkland can’t be given away without state approval.

Approximately 100 Sexton Plan opponents, including actor Matthew Broderick and playwright Kenneth Lonergan, showed up in Manhattan State Supreme Court to hear petitioners’ lawyer, former Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, make initial arguments. NYU and the City's Law department claimed that, despite the decades-old use of some properties on the proposed construction site by the public as parkland, the sites were not, in fact, dedicated parks. Mastro argued that there is plenty of proof that the four sites are, indeed, parks, including Parks Department signage at the locations, maintenance by the Parks Department and a devastating affidavit from former NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern that the four parks are, indeed, parks. “If it walks like a park, talks like a park, and looks like a park – it is a park,” said Mastro at an impromptu press conference after court.

Actor Matthew Broderick, a longtime Village resident, said that, “NYU has taken more and more of what’s unique about the Village. Parks make the City livable.” “The university doesn't own Greenwich Village, and the part they do own they're destroying.And it's not for the students, it's for money," said Village resident, playwright, screenwriter and director Kenneth Lonergan. (Lonergan is perhaps best known for his screenwriting for the movies Gangs of New York andAnalyze This, among others.)

Judge Mills ordered the City and NYU to file briefs in opposition to the order to show cause on March 12, and for the petitioners to file a final brief in reply on March 15.

The hearing today was the first in an Article 78 case that contests the City Planning Commission's and the City Council's decision to approve a massive building plan by NYU, which would radically impact a crown jewel of New York City: turning the heart of Greenwich Village into a jam-packed construction site for over 20 years. Eleven groups and individuals, includingNYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYUFASP), the Historic Districts Council, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, are among the petitioners.

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