Hundreds of Greenwich Village residents and their dogs marched through campus on Saturday, to protest the university’s plan to remove a dog run as part of its much-beleaguered vision for the “superblocks” just south of campus.
The run, located on the southeast side of Coles Gym at the corner of Mercer and West Houston Streets, recently underwent a complete renovation after years of dilapidation. When it reopened in 2009, the real estate site Curbed wrote, “A bit of normalcy has returned to this edge of NYUville, but perhaps only for a bit.”
Indeed, if NYU’s plan for the superblocks is given the go-ahead in the next few months by the City Planning Commission and City Council, “normalcy” will give way to 19 consecutive years of construction. The first order of business would be to tear down Coles Gym as soon as 2013, placing the adjacent dog run out of commission. The “zipper building,” to be completed by 2018, would rise in its place.
But according to John Beckman, NYU’s vice president of public affairs, the neighborhood would not be without a dog run at any point, despite the construction. A replacement run would be placed farther within the southern superblock, immediately to the west of the new building’s footprint on West Houston Street, before the original one is taken offline. “Our construction phasing calls for it to be established before the existing dog run comes under construction as part of the new “zipper” building,” Beckman said.
This phasing consideration appears to be an entirely overlooked aspect of NYU’s plan. Still, it seems improbable that opening a replacement dog run near the 5-year construction site for the zipper building would be without complications. There is a toddler playground planned for that adjacent space as well, but if the diagrams provided by NYU are an accurate representation of their proximity to the proposed building, it is logical to question the utility of either amenity in the midst of construction.
According to CAAN2031, a neighborhood group formed to oppose the 2031 plan, the turnout at Saturday’s protest drew at least 500 people, and the NY Daily News counted 200 dogs. NY State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Deborah Glick were in attendance, as well as representatives from the recently-formed NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, who are going by ‘NYUFASP’ according to their Facebook page.