Local Leaders to Borough President: Hear Us Out About N.Y.U. Plan

AndrewBermanProtestBeforeCB2MeetingNatalie Rinn Mr. Berman, right, at a protest on Thursday.

One of the most vocal opponents of New York University’s proposed expansion near Washington Square Park wants Borough President Scott M. Stringer to hold a public hearing before making an advisory decision about the controversial plan next month.

Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, drafted a letter to Mr. Stringer last Friday as the Borough President began his month-long review of the university’s proposal. The note, which came on the heels of Community Board 2’s unanimous advisory decision last Thursday against the expansion plan, was also signed by 15 community members, including block association leaders, preservationists, and Mark Crispin Miller of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan.

Mr. Berman acknowledged that public hearings by the Borough President are rare, but said this decision merited the additional outreach. “Certainly we think that [the plan] is important enough and far-reaching enough in its impact and consequences,” he told The Local.

The letter, reprinted below, cites the “thousands of people” who have made a special effort to speak out against the expansion plan over the last months. As added incentive for the hearing, Mr. Berman lists zoning changes the university’s plan would call for, and an overall loss of public land, which G.V.S.H.P. says will be a result from the project. For its part, the university reports no such loss would occur after its construction of four new buildings one block south of Washington Square Park.

Yesterday, Crain’s New York published a profile of Mr. Berman that dubbed him an “obstructionist” and posited that “Mr. Berman’s outsize personality and nose for the limelight has alienated activists, community board members and other neighborhood groups who have been his allies over the years.”

Responding to the article, Mr. Berman said, “I don’t begrudge Crain’s for having a difference of opinion about me or the work that I do. But I think that structuring a piece around anonymous quotes and hearsay from unnamed sources doesn’t really paint a flattering picture of Crain’s’ journalistic integrity.”

He added later that it was an unfortunate move for an otherwise highly respected publication. “Obviously the G.V.S.H.P. is making somebody very nervous to want them to run a piece like that, and in that case I make no apologies for what we do.”

Berm an Stringer Letter