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Parks & Public Spaces

Proposed Redesign of the North end of Union Square Parks

WHEREAS, New York City Parks and Recreation has proposed to redesign the northern end of Union Square Park; and

WHEREAS, Union Square Park and the north plaza of Union Square are highly valued public spaces that serve many constituencies, including local residents, businesses, park visitors, playground users, the green market and many others; and

WHEREAS, Funding has been provided from public and private sources, including the Union Square Partnership, Councilmember Margarita Lopez and the City of New York; and

WHEREAS, Union Square has traditionally been a place for free speech and public assembly; and

WHEREAS, Any proposal for the redesign of the park and plaza must balance the many uses of the park's constituents; and

WHEREAS, Consultation took place between the Union Square Partnership and New York City Parks and Recreation regarding a potential redesign of the north end of the park, including the playground areas, pavilion and the north plaza; and

WHEREAS, As a result of these consultations, Union Square Partnership has contracted Michael Van Valkenberg Landscape Architects to develop potential design concepts for the north end of the park and the plaza; and

WHEREAS, As part of the design process, Community Board Five, NYC Parks and Recreation and the Union Square Partnership sponsored numerous meetings with local residents, businesses, park users and interested community organizations to solicit input into the design; and 

WHEREAS, A final design was presented to Community Board Five at a public meeting on Monday, January 31, 2005; and

WHEREAS, Elements of the final design include the following:


Northern Gateway Plaza


Parks and Recreation Office and Storage

WHEREAS, The renovation of Union Square North and full restoration of the pavilion is not contingent on a concessionaire; and

WHEREAS, The proposal calls for the use of the Pavilion as a year round concession, and Community Board Five, traditionally, has been concerned with commercial concessions and their accompanying signage in public parks; and

WHEREAS, Any concession would go through an RFP review process and the Parks Department has assured the Board an opportunity to opine on the draft RFP prior to its release, as was done in that case of the Madison Square Park Food Kiosk; and

WHEREAS, Many in the community have expressed concern regarding a year round food concession with high prices and limited access, Community Board Five recommends that the RFP should not be limited to restaurateurs, but should be open to other entities such as cultural and community groups; and

WHEREAS, The Parks Department has agreed to require any concessionaire to offer low cost items such as take-out food service in the case of a restaurant; and

WHEREAS, The Board is also concerned with the possible elimination of tables and chairs for public seating in the concession area; and

WHEREAS, The Parks department has agreed to look closely at all prudent options for increasing public seating both portable and fixed including opening up portions of the space south of Lincoln's statue to temporary tables and chairs; and

WHEREAS, The Parks Department has agreed to evaluate all options in either fast tracking the playground construction or phasing to minimize closure time and possibly open alternative space in the park for supervised play in the interim; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five supports the design of the north end of Union Square Park and the Plaza as described above; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five requests that the Parks Department include opportunities for other organizations, such as cultural institutions, community groups, etc. to submit proposals for the pavilion in addition to restaurateurs, and that the Board be given full opportunity to opine on the RFP prior to its release. 

The above resolution passed with a vote of 23 in favor, 0 opposed, 3 abstentions.

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