Was Zuccotti Park Legally Allowed To Be Closed This Weekend?
As protesters cleared out of Zuccotti Park at the close of Saturday's Occupy Wall Street action Nick Pinto reported that police and private security guards from Brookfield Properties -- the owners of Zuccotti Park -- unlocked metal barricades to close up the plaza. In response, protesters yelled "What you're doing is illegal!" in reference to zoning regulations that deem the metal barricades unlawful. According to Buildings Department expediter Richard Nagan and members of the National Lawyers Guild, the protesters were right. "Totally illegal," Nagan told Runnin' Scared. "The zoning resolution and the special permit call for the plaza to be open 24 hours a day 7 days a week."
Nagan explained that one of the design criteria for the space designates that 50 percent of the perimeter must be accessible to the sidewalk, and while the other 50 percent can be obstructed, metal barricades are not deemed an appropriate obstruction.
The President of the NYC NLG, Gideon Oliver, concurred that the closure of the park was illegal.
"It was unconstitutional, but it also violated city laws because it's a privately-owned public space and it can't be closed without going through city zoning process and that didn't happen here," he told us.
When Paula Z. Segal, an activist with #whOWNSpace and a member of the NYC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, passed by Zuccotti Sunday she said saw Brookfield guards keeping watch over what appeared to be barricades belonging to a private company.
"That looks like a violation of the zoning resolution and it also looks like a violation of the approved plans for that plaza which don't include barricades around all four sides," she told Runnin' Scared.
Nagan said he has put in a complaint with the Department of Buildings via 311 Online and sent an email to the first deputy commissioner of the department with his concerns.
The Department of Buildings has not yet returned a request for comment.
We also reached out to Brookfield and DCPI for comment and have not heard back.
As of 10:28 a.m. we got word from Nick that the barricades were still up, though a source at the park told him they would be down sometime today.
Update: 3:52 p.m. Around 1:30 Nick tweeted that the barricades were down.
Update: 4:28 p.m. Brookfield declined to comment on the legality of the park's closure, though spokeswoman Melissa Coley wrote in an email that "the park reopened at 11 this morning after repairs to the damage incurred Saturday were completed."
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