Fancy Restaurant in the Middle of Union Square?

You may have noticed that the Union Square greenmarket has been shifted south, crowding the farmers' stands up next to the painters and the creepy dude giving out "free hugs." That's because the city plans to convert the pavilion at the north side of the square from a children's playground into an upscale restaurant.

If you feel (as Our Man Sietsema and I do) that digging up the north end of the square for yet another expensive restaurant is not such a good idea, you can go to a demonstration on Wednesday at 5pm against the proposed privatization.

Details, and press release after the jump.


NEW YORK – Save Union Square 2008, a group of concerned New York residents, has taken up the fight to stop privatization of a historic portion of Manhattan's Union Square. Last Wed., they began holding weekly events to raise opposition to plans by the city and private interests to convert the historic Pavilion at the north end of Union Square from a children's indoor playground and community space into a private, upscale restaurant.

This week, members say the campaign goes into high gear with a major demonstration coinciding with the Annual Meeting of the Union Square Partnership. The Partnership is the organization of Union Square merchants that has taken charge – with Mayor Bloomberg's support – of redevelopment of the park.

Who: Save Union Square 2008 What: Rally against privatization of Union Square Where: NE corner of Union Square Park, at E17th Street, Manhattan When: Thurs., June 5, 5 p.m.

Hereafter, every Wed. at 5pm, Save Union Square 2008 promise to be in the park, performing, recruiting, and urging passersby to sign an online petition and contact Councilperson Rosie Mendez, who has the power to stop this terrible plan.

Public opposition still has a chance to stop the bulldozing and conversion of the Pavilion. Since 2006, the plan has been in limbo due to a lawsuit filed by the Union Square Community Coalition. Despite rallying the support of numerous elected officials (see, private interests and the Bloomberg administration sneaked through a review-and-approval process that appeared rigged from the outset. That transaction is now under review in court (

"We have a real chance to stop this, so it's crucial that the people's voice be heard," says Mark Read, a professor at nearby New York University and member of Save Union Square 2008. "Union Square has a tremendous tradition of free speech, going back to the days of Emma Goldman and Paul Robeson, that's still very much alive. It's a vibrant gathering place for people from throughout the city – check it out any day this summer. Giving away space that should be for children and community use, and turning it into a watering hole for the affluent would be a travesty. Yet, as so often in the past, City Hall is trying to do it under our noses."

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