We thought we should share the following letter, from our attorney, Michael S. Hiller:
April 18th, 2019
We received the decision, and, as expected (given what transpired at the last hearing), the Court ruled against the Park. The Court’s ruling contains virtually no analysis, but rather merely parrots the position taken by the Museum and the City in its brief. It is remarkable how our fortunes changed in this litigation. We went from stopping the project by the grant of an emergency TRO, an enormous victory for our group that garnered front-page headlines, to a 2-page decision that summarily dismissed the coalition’s claims with virtually no legal analysis.
I have attached a copy of the decision. I have also highlighted below, our response to a member of the press, who requested our comment. It reflects my sentiments at the moment, except that I used quite a bit of restraint when describing how I feel about the decision.
"The First Department's decision essentially guarantees the destruction of Theodore Roosevelt Park, which, until the City's approval of the museum expansion, had been a public park since its establishment nearly 200 years ago.”
“As for the decision, we disagree with it, but we do not regret having represented the community in this matter, which had become a largely pro bono project for our firm. We continue to believe that the privatization of public assets by large institutions and developers poses an existential threat to the soul of the City, and accordingly, we will not stop our work on behalf of its communities until policies are instituted to protect our public parks and other greenspaces which continue to dwindle in the current political environment that so heavily favors private development over the interests of New Yorkers.”
I’m in the office tomorrow if you’d like to reach me. I cannot sufficiently express my disappointment with this outcome. I genuinely believe that, notwithstanding the decision, we are and have always been right that the City was required to subject this project to the ULURP process, and that the environmental hazards posed by this project were never properly or fully investigated. Nonetheless, I do not regret working on it, as it afforded us the opportunity to fight for what we know is right – the dream of most lawyers who passed the bar – and because being involved in this case introduced me to each of you and the thousands of supporters who fought valiantly alongside us, as we did everything we could to protect this precious (now former) public park.
On behalf of my firm, I thank you for your hard work, dedication and unrelenting support, which we felt every time we walked into court. You made us stronger and better. Unfortunately, the City and the Museum just had more juice, and that’s something that apparently, even the best arguments could not overcome.
Michael S. Hiller, Esq.