Evening Rally To Save Union Square


Photo by karla kaulfuss via Flickr

Activists plan big ‘party-style’ rally with soapbox preaching and a marching band in Union Square Park at 5 pm this evening to protest renovation plans that they say will privatize the park.

After the controversial renovation of Washington Square Park they’re raising a racket against the loss of more public space at Union Square Park, the mother of many a movement in its day including the eight-hour work day.

Mark Reed, a local activist and NYU professor, confirms that the plan is “giving away space that should be for children and community use, and turning it into a watering hole for the affluent.”

Organized by Save Union Square 2008, the protest seeks to highlight how the Union Square Partnership, a business improvement district (BID) financially backing the project, is effectively privatizing part of Union Square Park by handing public acreage to restaurateur Danny Meyer for upscale dining in an area already bloated with restaurants. Furthering outrage, the protesters claim the plan shoehorns the farmers’ market and artists’ space, and fails to give correct or full disclosure of information to community representatives.

A lawsuit filed by the Union Square Community Coalition has halted the construction of the new restaurant, but the renovation of the north end of the park continues. According to the Save Union Square blog, the plan will “widen the street on the west side of the square by approximately 12 feet, and put up a wide concrete barrier and a line of trees on the north, greatly reducing the space for the Farmer’s Market forcing them to push into space previously occupied by artists” in addition to the Pavilion plans.