Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Village Residents Look To Halt NYU Expansion Plan

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Dozens of Greenwich Village residents took to the streets Sunday to protest NYU's plans to build new buildings on city-owned land that's now used as public space. NY1's Ty Milburn filed the following report.

More than a hundred Greenwich Village residents and a half-dozen elected officials huddled around the Fiorello LaGuardia statue Sunday to protest NYU's plans to expand its campus in the Village.

"We believe very strongly that NYU must finally learn to coexist, not overwhelm this community," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer

Two weeks ago, members of Manhattan's Community Board 2 passed a resolution opposing the university development proposal called "NYU 2031." Part of that plan called for the university to put up new buildings in the Village on seven strips of city-owned land totaling more than two acres.

Residents insist that part of the plan be scrapped because they would like to see the Parks Department turn the strips into permanent parkland.

"It's being used as public land now. It has been since the 60s when these spaces were first created," said Community Board 2 Member Jo Hamilton. "There's no reason why it shouldn't officially become parkland. We shouldn't be moving Mr. Fiorello LaGuardia in order to have an NYU building there."

A spokesperson from NYU released a statement saying, "For the past 3 years NYU has engaged in dialogue with various stakeholders in the community. As we proceed with refining our plan, through the city's uniform land use review procedure, we will continue these conversations on a broad range of topics, including how to best improve publicly-accessible open spaces."

Longtime Village resident Paul Shinkel says, over the years, the community has lost too much public space to NYU. He says if they don't fight, pretty soon it will all be gone.

"I like the University. I like the fact they have ambitions, but not at the cost of the neighborhood," Shinkel said. "This is Greenwich Village. It's a fabulous neighborhood. People come here from all over the world."

The latest protest comes weeks after NYU scrapped plans to build a 400-foot tower at LaGuardia Place after objections from the community and famed architect I.M. Pei.

Residents say they will continue to put pressure on both city leaders and NYU.

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