DANGER TO THE PARK & COMMUNITY
Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park continues to speak out to city leadership & representatives, raise awareness, and pursue legal avenues in order to halt the expansion of a private institution - the American Museum of Natural History - into public park land. The Gilder Center would be a massive 245,000 sq. ft. building, equating to a 10-story structure, right in the heart of our cherished park.
An expansion into the park affects the Upper West Side community in a number of ways – reduced green space, environmental dangers, and disruptive construction. Read on to find out more!
Hazardous Materials & Toxic Substances
The AMNH submitted an application Environmental Impact Statement Draft Scope of Work littered with blank spaces and incomplete answers to significant questions affecting the health and safety of adults, children, animals, and the environment.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement, released November 2017, while still incomplete and lacking robust mitigation and safety plans, confirms the real danger that any construction project will disturb pre-existing brownfields containing:
asbestos, oil & coal tanks, organic lead, benzene, mercury, PAHs, nickel and industrial solvents
These deadly, toxic materials have been found in BOTH soil and ground water samples. There is a clear and tangible health hazard possibility that the community must thoroughly and completely investigate. Substantial blasting of bedrock needed for the proposal amplifies our concern and vigilance. These findings are confirmed by an independent assessment prepared by GHD, Inc. for Community United.
In light of this information, the lack of detailed, complete health and safety plans to protect residents, workers, and innocent passers-by is particularly egregious. Thousands of people will be affected by the construction and operation of this expansion, yet the information provided by the Museum’s Administration is incomplete and reflects a dismissive attitude to the well-being of the surrounding community.
Public Parkland &
Urban Green Spaces Gone Forever
The Museum Administration asserts in the environmental statement that it is entitled to the entire acreage of Theodore Roosevelt Park stating, "an 1876 State statute set aside the entire site of Manhattan Square (now Theodore Roosevelt Park) for the Museum*."
Allowing the Gilder Center to proceed would declare open season on the remainder of TR Park, not just the over 11,600 square feet of Theodore Roosevelt Park, at least 7 magnificent canopy trees, and plant life threatened by the current proposal. It will set the precedent that the park is for development according to the AMNH's whims and with out a Master Plan for expansion the community has no reassurance that any promised renovations will last long.
Community United strenuously contests the AMNH's claim to own this public parkland. We believe that every person deserves to live near open, green spaces and intend to protect the soaring trees that have shaded Upper West Side residents from sun and served as refuge for wildlife in inclement weather for more than 100 years and should stand for 100 years more.
Further, The Bull Moose Dog Run will also be affected by this project, potentially closed or relocated. Dog run patrons have been patiently waiting 3+ years for an already funded renovation. We recommend enlisting the NYC Parks Dept. and beginning the renovation of Bull Moose Dog Run immediately.
*Chapter 2: Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy, Page 2
MILLIONS in PUBLIC $$$ for a PRIVATE Institution
Our elected officials committed over $100,000,000 in tax dollars to the AMNH, a private institution, before public hearings were held for tax payer input. They doubled down this year appropriating an additional $17,500,000 from both the 2017 and 2018 budgets. We ask: “Why should the pursuit of one public good, like a science center or a housing complex, require the destruction of another public good like a park?”
Community United thinks our elected officials should seek public input before committing $135,000,000 million to a project that does not represent the needs of our community, and further reinforces the inequality of scientific resources between over-served and under-served boroughs.
Crowds, Vendors, Rubbish & Rodents
The AMNH’s proposed expansion includes an enormous 4th entrance and welcome center opening onto Columbus Avenue. In the museum’s application, crowd numbers are predicted to increase 20% with more than 600,000 - 1 Million visitors drawn to the new center alone.
Waiting buses and passenger vehicles promise to further strain an already bustling Columbus Avenue delaying essential police, fire, and ambulance services.
Community United objects to a profound increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic, street vendors, and crowds that will fundamentally change the character of the surrounding community.
3-5 YEARS of Noise, Dust & Construction
The AMNH’s proposal calls for demolition of existing structures, significant excavation of bedrock, as well as new construction with the Gilder Center potentially open sometime in 2021. That’s more than 4 years of rumbling trucks, blasting, heavy machinery, dust, orange fences and scaffolding.
Community United wants to preserve our quiet park where children learn to ride bikes, color with chalk on the sidewalk, and play with their friends. We think a space for neighbors to talk under the soaring trees and dogs to play is worth saving.
Think Globally, ACT Locally
The same forces at work seeking to exploit our National Parks for private gain are present here in New York City.
The first private residential development on public parkland is now being erected in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was funded before the public was consulted or approvals were obtained. The trees, green space and parkland are gone forever. Engaged citizens can make sure that doesn't happen here!
Community United stands firmly against a project that would devastate a quiet, residential community. Without individuals banding together this same reality could happen again and again.
Stand Up! Say NO.
Take a stand now before our legacy and way of life are sold to those with the deepest pockets.
Ready to get involved? Click here to Take Action>>.