LOCAL GROUPS STAKE OUT POSITIONS ON MUSEUM EXPANSION AHEAD OF MEETING THIS WEEK

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“Aerial view of current American Museum of Natural History complex, showing proposed footprint expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park and other currently unbuilt space (in red).  Also shown is project’s impact on existing building fabric (in pink).” Via Landmark West!.

The official public process to determine whether the Museum of Natural History gets to build its new Gilder education center begins this coming week with a joint meeting of Community Board 7’s parks and preservation committees. The meeting will take place on Tuesday September 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Goddard Riverside, 593 C0lumbus Avenue (88th Street).

Ahead of the meeting, two groups with an interest in the proceedings have begun to weigh in.

The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District has released a letter strongly in support of the new building.

“Until now, Columbus Avenue was the back side to the Museum, with no entrance to welcome visitors, residents, or local shoppers and diners. This proposed addition, which fulfills the Museum’s current needs for expansion, affords a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly integrate the Museum with Columbus Avenue and the Upper West Side, making the new Gilder Center more approachable and prominent within this City-owned park.”

But preservationist group Landmark West!, while praising early renderings of the design, has raised concerns about the encroachment of the museum into Theodore Roosevelt Park. The group has asserted that the museum does not have “unrestricted right to build in Theodore Roosevelt Park,” and wants the museum to explain exactly how much of the park it intends to eventually occupy.

“LW! and many in the broader community do not accept the assertion that the Museum has the unrestricted right to build in Theodore Roosevelt Park…Any plan that does not establish limits on future expansion into Theodore Roosevelt Park is fundamentally inappropriate….The Museum should create a long-range master plan that ensures the continued existence and quality of Theodore Roosevelt Park.”

The group sent a letter to the museum asking for more details but says it hasn’t received a reply. The museum didn’t get back to us about Landmark West’s assertions.

We wrote about the museum’s latest plans here.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 12 comments | permalink
    1. anon says:

      Landmark West is claiming both that the museum doesn’t have the rights it was granted 140 years ago and then complains that the new addition is inconsistent with the 1874-77 Master Plan. If they want to say the museum doesn’t have the rights it was given back then how can they say they still must adhere to the plan?

    2. jeff Berger says:

      I saw that the ant-expansion side had a booth at the fair this weekend. Being a NIMBYist is one thing, having a booth is absurd. How about take a deep breath and be grateful that you live in a area of NYC where people want to build and expand cultural institutions. The AMNH will bring in students, scholars, teachers – the kind of people we want on the UWS.

    3. Steen says:

      Honestly, this footprint seems so tiny compared to the outrage it is generating among a handful of people. 50-100 people are opposed and tens of thousands are for it, but the 50 are screamers, so they feel like more–that’s my take.

      • Jay says:

        There’s a significant number of people out there that think their opinion is more valid than others or feel that they are speaking on behalf of those that aren’t speaking up.

        In reality, it’s the insecurity they have for their own opinion.

        • stevieboy says:

          I would say it’s more shameless self-interest that with a nice little sprinkle of hypocrisy. That’s the UWS Nimby way.

          Thankfully these are the same 50 big mouths who went to bat against Citi Bike and the bike lanes….how did that work out for them? I forget.

          • R10025 says:

            Thank you for that comment.
            It’s an elitist problem for the few who live near the museum!
            No one else cares about this issue. I think it’s one gadfly who is brushing up this supposed outrage about the Museum expansion.
            put the energy to more pressing issues in the community!

            Where is all the outrage over the mess of traffic on UWS from the bike lanes and now all the Citi bikes plopped down all over the place and how the Bike lanes changed life for the worse for the people who live on Columbus or Amsterdam Avenue?
            We still have trucks making deliveries and passengers getting out of cabs and that creates huge ties up of honking horns on the narrowed avenues. Fire and police can’t get through this tied up traffic.

            If no one noticed, we have interstate traffic coming and going to the George Washington bridge using this avenue and no one is listening to the people living here. Where is all the outrage ?

            • dannyboy says:

              “Where is all the outrage over the mess of traffic on UWS from the bike lanes and now all the Citi bikes plopped down all over the place and how the Bike lanes changed life for the worse for the people who live on Columbus or Amsterdam Avenue?” – R10025

              you sure you want to go there?

              the Zulus are fierce fighters!

            • Josh says:

              I live on Amsterdam in the 96th street corridor. The traffic here on Amsterdam Ave has nothing to do with the bike lane at all and the severe traffic tie ups that happen all thoughout the day are purely caused by backups on 96th street and 97th street with drivers blocking the box. Once the construction ended where the telecom companies were digging up the street to install the fiber wires for the LinkNYC kiosks, there are no back ups north of 97th.

              As for police and fire getting caught in traffic, this is an absolute nonissue as long as cars are not illegally parked in a bike lane, because a clear bike lane is heaven for emergency responders because they can bypass all traffic. So if you are concerned about ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks never having an issue with traffic, try pushing NYPD to enforce no stopping regulations in bike lanes.

    4. dannyboy says:

      “Until now, Columbus Avenue was the back side to the Museum, with no entrance to welcome visitors, residents, or local shoppers and diners.”

      the argument that it’s ‘good for business’ doesn’t hold any water for me.

      • Christian says:

        The food carts at the “front side” of the museum seem to do pretty good business, and that area gets a lot more traffic. On the other hand, can the Columbus Avenue side handle more traffic? The farmer’s market gets pretty crowded. I’m not a strong advocate for either side, I’m just making observations.

    5. Big Earl says:

      “Until now, Columbus Avenue was the back side to the Museum, with no entrance to welcome visitors, residents, or local shoppers and diners.”

      Really?! No entrance? That’s odd because for the last 18 years I enter the museum through the back entrance right off Columbus after you walk through the lovely park they want to destroy. Not only is there an entrance already but it has a member line and line for visitors and it is always a less crowded entrance than the more well known front entrances. The back entrance also leads to the large room where the children gather and wait while on field trips.

      • dannyboy says:

        “Not only is there an entrance already but it has a member line and line for visitors and it is always a less crowded entrance than the more well known front entrances.”

        shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

        let’s keep that on the low down