State Assembly member Sylvia Friedman, speaking before Community Board 6 last night, said that she would fight any attempt by the Parks Department to open a cafe in Stuyvesant Square, between 15th and 17th streets on Second Avenue.
Ms. Friedman has unique power to stop the Parks Department in its plans, as the Assembly must approve any alienation of parkland for private uses, and the Assembly member in whose district the park sits gets final approval. (Alienation is the first step in order to lease out public parkland.)
The Parks Department prefers to refer to its agreements with private venders as “concessions,” rather than “leases.” According to Ms. Friedman, this is a dodge resulting in unchecked privatization of public space. She noted that the “concession” in Union Square Park–Luna Park–has operated for nine years.
“We will never give up an inch of Community Board 6’s park space,” she told the assembled board. Later, she told The Real Estate that she is prepared to go to court to stop the new restaurant planned for Union Square Park when the northern quadrant is finally renovated.
Community Board 6 has been tusslng with the Parks Department recently over Stuyvesant Square. Currently, Parks has issued a R.F.P. for a cafe in the park.