Neighbors Organize to Defend Teddy’s Park

Crucial Environmental Review Ahead for Museum Expansion

June 4, 2017

The American Museum of Natural History’s controversial plan to expand into Theodore Roosevelt Park is heading into its final stage.

The Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park urge you to attend the important public hearing on the environmental impact of the museum’s proposed new six-story science center, which will remove a quarter-acre of parkland.  The hearing will be held on Thursday, June 15, at 6 p.m. in the museum. Enter at the Columbus Avenue entrance off 79th Street.

The hearing, in effect, will be the public’s last chance to air concerns. It will focus on a draft environmental impact statement produced by the museum under the direction of the city Parks Department. The draft covers issues ranging from diminished parkland to traffic congestion.  For the first time, the project’s 36-month construction plan will also be addressed.

We hope you will review the draft, available on the Parks Department website. And then attend the hearing.

Link: https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/theodore-roosevelt-park/amnh-gilder

Crucial Environmental Review Ahead for Museum Expansion

March 16, 2017

The winter has come, then gone, then come again.

While we wait for the season to decide its direction, we also await publication of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the American Museum of Natural History’s proposed expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park to build a new science center. Prepared by the museum under the direction of the New York City Parks Department, the EIS is due this spring.

In the meantime, the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park would like to review how far we have come in this struggle to preserve our park’s precious open space. The Defenders:

  • Led the way in alerting the neighborhood to the museum expansion;
  • Organized a costly town hall meeting attended by 300;
  • Played a significant role in getting the museum to take 50 per cent less parkland for its project;
  • Employed an arborist and saved two majestic trees slated for removal;
  • Served as an important force in re-designing the park so that, if the expansion occurs, we will reduce damage to the park’s role as a gathering place.

We also have called on the museum to further reduce the “mass” of its project and to deal with impending congestion issues. And we have testified at public hearings on the draft of an EIS and on the application to the Landmarks Commission.

Our work continues. We will be ready this spring when a public hearing is held on crucial environmental issues and the final development of an EIS.

The months ahead will be challenging and your participation in this effort will be essential.

Thank you again for your contributions and for being active in defending our neighborhood resource.

Defenders Name Lydia Thomas as New President

July 30, 2016

Lydia Thomas, a businesswoman and 44-year resident of the Upper West Side, is the new president of the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park.Her election by the Board of Directors was unanimous.

A former teacher, Thomas is founder of Power Thru The Clutter, LLC, a firm that helps people better organize their space and their lives. She succeeds Adrian Smith, a landscape architect, who has served six months as president.

“Lydia has all the attributes we need in a president,” Smith said. “She is calm, highly capable and committed to making sure that Teddy Roosevelt Park will serve as an urban oasis in a crowded neighborhood.”

Formed last July after the American Museum of Natural History proposed a major expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park at 79 th Street, the Defenders have played a significant role in preserving the park’s role as a community gathering place. Most notably, the museum now would take 50% less parkland for a new science center and entrance, and would save two stately canopy trees initially threatened by an underground service driveway associated with the expansion.

The Defenders – and especially Smith with his landscape design skills — have also played a leading role on a special Park Working Group that has proposed a redesign of the park on the museum’s west side, off 79 th Street. Despite loss of some parkland, the redesign would enhance the park’s ability to serve as the neighborhood’s tranquil backyard.

“We’ve made some important gains,” Thomas said, “but we still have work to do. In particular. I’m concerned by the sheer size of the project and the need to reduce further its impact on this small park. We also will firmly register our views as the project moves through the government review process.”

Stuart Blumin, a 79th Street resident and emeritus professor of American history at Cornell University, will replace Smith on the Park Working Group. Smith is taking a position with the city’s Parks Department managing projects on Staten Island. He will remain on the Defenders Board but, under city guidelines, must relinquish a spokesman role.

Defenders Reaffirm Concern Over Size of Museum Project

May 6, 2016
In a letter to the president of the American Museum of Natural History. the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park has reiterated its belief that the museum’s imposing proposed science center is too large an intrusion into the intimate park. The letter calls for further modification in the project’s size and sweep.

Read the letter.

Key Concerns for Environmental Review

April 6, 2016
The Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park is pushing to sharpen and deepen the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate the American Museum of Natural History’s expansion into the park. We have submitted a statement to the New York City Parks Department that lists key concerns.

See the full statement.

Taking a Bite

Nov. 12, 2015

Animated aerial view of proposed museum expansion, before and after.

 

 

Landscape architects oppose museum plan

Oct. 16, 2015

The New York chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects has issued a letter opposing the American Museum of Natural History’s proposed major expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park.  The project is “not in the best interest of the city,” the ASLA concludes. Read the letter here.

 

 

The Municipal Art Society of New York: On the American Museum of Natural History Expansion

Oct. 13, 2015

The prestigious Municipal Art Society of New York has weighed in with some very important questions and concerns about the American Museum of Natural History’s proposed expansion deeply into Teddy Roosevelt Park. We welcome the organization’s involvement. Read statement here.

 

 

Town Hall Meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 6

Oct. 6, 2015 – 7:00-9:00 PM

Learn how the proposed expansion of the American Museum of Natural History could significantly affect the park, the environment and our neighborhoods. Read press coverage here.

Hosted by: Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park, Inc.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 7:00-9:00 PM

The Fourth Universalist Society
160 Central Park West at 76th Street

Event support by LandmarkWest! and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development.

 

 

 

77th Street Speaks

Aug. 13, 2015
The Natural History Museum’s plan to devour a beloved gathering spot in Theodore Roosevelt Park has riled the 77th Street Block Association. A sharply drafted letter has been circulated.  See a copy.

 

 

 

Through a Writer's Eye

July 25, 2015
Recently, David Miller, a young Upper West Side writer, spent time closely observing Theodore Roosevelt Park – from the walkway tiles to the fascinating swirl of human activity.  Click here for his impressions.

 

 

 

Press Gets an Earful

July 20, 2015
News media are covering the backlash to the museum expansion plans.  At left, reporter interviews Nadine Gill who walks through the park  every day.  She says: “It takes my breath away as a beautiful piece of music, lifting the spirit.

 

 

Street Warriors in Action

July 12, 2015
Backlash grows as Upper West Siders learn of the American Museum of Natural History’s plan to devour a chunk of Theodore Roosevelt Park for a major expansion. On Sunday, three protesters (Marj and Dave Greenberg and Mary Gissler) signed up supporters at the farmer’s market on Columbus Avenue. Many neighbors were unaware of the museum’s plan.