cary goodman
Dr. Cary Goodman sitting outside the museum.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Dr. Cary Goodman, an outspoken opponent of the proposed expansion of the Museum of Natural History, announced his candidacy on Friday for City Council member from District 6, representing most of the Upper West Side. The seat is currently held by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who is up for re-election this November. Dr. Goodman intends to run in the Democratic primary, but said he is not wedded to any party.

“I am running as a fusion candidate to freeze the funding for the Museum’s toxic plan and save our park,” he said, referring to the proposed Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a $340 million, 235,000-square-foot addition to the Museum that will require the destruction of about a quarter of an acre of Theodore Roosevelt Park, the 25-acre public park that surrounds it, including seven towering old trees. Dr. Goodman, who has a Ph.D. in sociology and has never run for public office before, made his announcement, sitting alone on a park bench in their shadows, calling this “the major issue in this district in this race… along with integration and equity in our schools,” he added.

WSR asked Dr. Goodman, who is executive director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District in the Bronx, how he responds to those who suggest his real motive is to see the new science center built instead within his BID. After listing several reasons why that is a good idea, he said, “I don’t really care that it be built in any other part of the city. I just don’t think this is the right plan for this space.” He countered by calling the expansion a “done deal” before it ever reached the public eye.

The museum’s expansion plan attracted some opposition early on, because neighbors thought it would be too large and impede into surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park. One opposition group tempered its criticism after the museum agreed to reduce the footprint. But Goodman has remained adamant that the building should not move forward, and has organized continuing protests, including against museum board member Tina Fey. The Landmarks Preservation Commission recently gave its approval, and the project is now undergoing an environmental review.

Council Member Rosenthal disagrees and looks forward to debating the issues with Dr. Goodman. “Multiple-candidate races are critical for residents to become ‘high information’ voters with debate on different perspectives and ideas,” she wrote in an email to WSR. “This is a great opportunity for all residents to become further engaged and informed and I welcome that. No one should ever run unopposed, it’s not democratic.”

NEWS | 49 comments | permalink
    1. Johnny says:

      I know nothing about Dr. Goodman but I am very happy to see someone challenging Ms. Rosenthal. I hope there are others, I believe she is vulnerable this year. To me she has been unresponsive to the community and a little too right of center politically.
      And certainly she has not performed to the standard set by Ms. Brewer

    2. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      I agree with the incumbent, no one should ever run unopposed.

      Lets begin the debates next month.

    3. UWS parent says:

      I will vote for almost anyone against Rosenthal and I know many others who plan to do the same.

    4. Paul says:

      There may be plenty of good reasons to oppose the reelection of Ms. Rosenthal.
      This, however, is not one of them.
      Preservation of 1% of a park located right next to another park that is, itself 100 times larger to prevent a natural and needed expansion of a world treasure?

      • Judith M Kass says:

        Paul is right; the AMNH is a world treasure. I should know, I volunteer there. BUT how many parents. nannies, kids, folks with dogs, etc. go into Central Park for the same reason they sit on a bench in Roosevelt Park? RP Is steps from Columbus, an easy walk from many west side homes. Another block may be more than some people want to travel, especially in winter or hot weather. How many old folks would rather find a spot in RP than trek that extra block? I witness the social interaction (dogs make friends, too, like the parents, nannies and kids) every time I walk home. If the AMNH is so interested in using Gilder money for a Science Center, it can expand it’s outreach underground. Seriously. The museum owns the land; it can tunnel down more easily than, say, the MTA built those 3 stations on 2nd Ave.

        • Jeff Berger says:

          Have you seen the disruption on Second Avenue? Tunneling under would be more expensive, more complicated and more disruptive to the community than moving a few trees and building above ground. And what is wrong with “Gilder money”

        • Janne A. says:

          The museum does not own the land. It leases the land on which it sits from the Parks Department. The museum does not control or manage the surrounding parkland which is owned by the Parks Department and therefore by the City of New York and therefore by the people of the City of New York.

        • FRED DUBOSE says:

          In the Times reporting that the footprint would be reduced, I read that this portion of TR park would not only end up with more newly planted trees but also more BENCHES.

      • Dr. Cary Goodman says:

        Thanks for continuing the discussion. Wish it would have happened before the incumbent put up tens of millions of our tax dollars for this misguided project.

        On the Central Park question, are you aware that last year it had 42 million visitors? Not exactly the same as our neighborhood park; more like comparing St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Holy Trinity. Different sacred spaces for different uses.

        • Jeff Berger says:

          Dr. Goodman. Thank you for your participation. Would you kindly deal with the charge that your real opposition is due to your desire to see this educational wing move to your BID in Harlem?

          It seems rather silly to oppose a major expansion of a world class museum and research facility for the purpose of adding an education center that will benefit our community just because of a few trees.

          Thank you.

        • Paul RL says:

          What is misguided is your opposition to this plan. The neighborhood would get a beautiful, world-class educational center and you would get to keep your park, with even more trees than before. Not sure what’s going on, but clearly there is something else at stake here for you personally.

    5. Paul RL says:

      I never thought I’d have a reason to vote for CM Rosenthal, but this is reason enough. Whatever Dr. Goodman’s motives are, his opposition to this wonderful expansion plan is just plain bad for the neighborhood.

    6. Sherman says:

      I think Helen Rosenthal is a disaster but this guy with his “PhD in sociology” seems even more to the left of Rosenthal.

      He isn’t much of an option.

    7. Wilkie says:

      Agree with Paul. Central Park next door is twice the size of Monaco with more than enough space for relaxing. I understand that education takes a back seat in this new era we live in, but shouldn’t some of us make some sacrifices for those who want to provide education to all of us?

    8. Arlene Geiger says:

      Helen has been a terrific representative and the last thing the Upper West Side needs is a Republican leaning representative which is what he sounds like. He sounds just like the candidate that primaried Jerry Nadler – and will go down just as Nadler’s opposition did.

    9. Penny says:

      Oh god, now I’m going to have to vote for Rosenthal. This group refuses to listen to reason,and this guy is clearly fighting for his own personal interests.

    10. Bob Wyman says:

      There are few things more damaging to good government than “single issue” candidates. What many voters forget is that our legislators are unique in society as they are the only class of people who are expected to offer good judgement on *every* issue.

      It may be that many voters will agree with a single issue candidate on some specific issue, but, even those voters who do agree should still seek another candidate who can show superior judgement on all other issues as well. What good will a piece of park land do you if the rest of environment is destroyed or the City’s economy is weakened by bad judgements, if our schools are poorly managed or your rent is increased without restraint?

      Those we elect should be individuals who have shown a long time dedication to public service, in or out of office, and can demonstrate long years of learning and acting on a wide variety of issues. If we do not require the highest level of broad judgement from our legislators, we may get support on one or two issues of importance to us but lose on all other issues.

      I suggest that Goodman is, by his own words, unqualified to contest against Rosenthal. The proper place for a single issue advocate is in the streets, in the press and behind the witness table at hearings — not on the Council.

      • Carlos says:

        Well put – I agree 100%. Unless this guy expresses clear, well thought out perspectives on other issues relevant to UWS residents, I could agree with him completely (which I don’t) and I still wouldn’t vote for him.

    11. Wendy Blank says:

      I’m onboard to help. Certainly extra office space can be purchased without harming this beautiful park with ancient trees.

    12. Gretchen says:

      Really? A NIMBY for City Council? I think not. Should 3 trees take a back seat to the future of science and education when 843 acres of Central Park is a mere block away? This guy obviously has some bizarro ax to grind. Totally sticking with Rosenthal, who’s doing a very fine job.

    13. Maddy says:

      This is another example of how Helen Rosenthal is a terrible community leader- while this project may be good for the neighborhood- (she didn’t conceive, propose or design it) the council members communication around the approval process has been abysmal. No wonder people are angry- she has a trump style of leadership that does what she wants with little to no consultation with the neighborhood.

    14. Jerome says:

      One more example of Helen Rosenthal’s awful constituent service.

    15. Maddy says:

      This is another example of how Helen Rosenthal is not an effective community leader- while this project may be good for the neighborhood-the council members communication around the approval process has been abysmal. No wonder people are angry.

    16. robert says:

      I cannot wait to support ANYONE running against Helen Rosenthal. She has been absolutely AWFUL. I can’t wait to campaign for this man.

      • tsmom says:

        So totally agree. She has done nothing but pander, while giving away, selling out (?), the uws to one developer after another. Talks a democrat and acts like a corporate republican

    17. George says:

      This issue is not just three trees in TR Park. The Museum plans to build a grand new entrance facing West 79th Street that will attract crowds and food carts to an already overcrowded corridor in a residential neighborhood. Ms. Rosenthal has never even been willing to consider the case against this particular expansion of the Museum.

    18. UWS_lifer says:

      I have one question for the good Dr.

      If you were on a plane or in a restaurant or something and someone fell extremely ill and they announced “Is there a Doctor in the house?? This man is dying.” Would you come forward??

      You are not a doctor…maybe a professor or something but come on. I have a doctorate too (J.D.) but even the legal profession isn’t arrogant enough to insist on being called Drs.

      Just my opinion though. Sort of a little pet peeve of mine Anyway, have a nice weekend everyone!

      • Julia says:

        I too am a JD and do not call myself Dr.–it’s not the norm in the legal profession since we were ‘upgraded” from LLBs. It is the norm for PhDs to call themselves Dr. Maybe you have a more substantive objection!?

      • JA says:

        Wow. According to you (and – as far as I have heard – only you), Ph.D. scholars of academia such as physical geography, English literature, art history, etc. are not entitled to be addressed as “Dr.”? Colleges and universities across the land must be notified immediately!

    19. Judith M Kass says:

      It would be useful for this set of opinions (see below) if a few of the writers explained WHY they loathe Helen Rosenthal. It’s not enough to say as Sherman does, for example: “I think Helen Rosenthal is a disaster but this guy with his “PhD in sociology” seems even more to the left of Rosenthal.”

      • Zin says:

        The issue of the Museum’s building of an Education center will have gone through its review process by the time the election is near – what will Mr Goodman stand for then? Affordable housing, desegregated public schools, street safety, environmental justice, fair distribution of homeless shelters, campaign finance reform – these are just some of the issues where the city needs brave leadership. I think Rosenthal was the only official that was transparent about her support for the Museum’s plans. The city and state were funding it long before she came into office and all those representatives never said a word. She was the only one who was honest about it and stood by that support openly.

    20. UWS Mess says:

      Yay. He has my support. I have not been happy with Helen almost from the beginning. Her attention is in the wrong issues.

    21. Bob Lamm says:

      This single-issue candidate is running not on the crisis of homelessness in our city, not on other crucial issues, but about a very small part of a park. He calls the museum’s plan “toxic” (will anyone die?) and wants to “save” the park. What remarkably overheated rhetoric! He has every right to run, but what a waste of time!

    22. Jerry Bergman says:

      I’m shocked to hear such criticism of Helen Rosenthal, who has been both attuned to the people of the district and an effective legislator in the City Council. To cite just one example, Helen has been one of the few elected officials to champion the needs of people with hearing loss – the many seniors, working adults and children whose inability to hear goes unnoticed but causes them to live as shut-ins, suffer job discrimination and have difficulty learning.

    23. NYER says:

      I think the reason Helen Rosenthal is in trouble is because her constituent services are awful.

      • zin says:

        I couldnt disagreee more about constituent services. I have gone in a few times for housing and a tree that was cut down on our block. I have had neighbors go in that were very impressed with how helpful everyone was. They are always efficient, knowledgable and friendly.

        • Maddy says:

          Well other elected officials are complaining that Helen Rosenthal’s office is not taking care of constituents and are having to pick up the slack. Maybe if it’s easy about a tree and they can just report it to the parks department they do- complicated? Go to Linda or Gale.

    24. Juan says:

      Is WSR going to give every person who declares for office this much coverage? Do we know if anyone outside of his immediate family will vote for him once all of the candidates have declared? It sounds like other than the WSR reporter, no one knows or cares that he is running. There is clearly a lot of “anyone but Helen” sentiment but I’m guessing a better candidate will arise.

      Also, it would have been nice of WSR to ask for his position on additional issues if they are going to feature him.

      I really appreciate all of the hard work done by WSR and usually it is very helpful (except some of the lack of moderation of comments), but this was not your best work.

    25. Howard Charles Yourow, S.J.D. says:

      In the wise words of Helen Rosenthal, supra :

      ” No one should ever run unopposed, it’s not democratic. ”

      After the fiasco resulting from the capture of the { D } party by the obama and Clinton factions no truer words could be spoken.

      But little d democracy must be restored to the big D party @ ALL levels — national, state, and local. Thus, kudos to Dr G …
      but who will FINALLY mount a credible primary challenge to the gerrymandered, geriatric Jerry Nadler ?

    26. Mark Moore says:

      I don’t even think of that area as a park — it’s just the space around the museum. The Park is across the street.

    27. Cheryl Kligler, LMSW says:

      As a retired social worker who volunteers at Council Member Rosenthal’s District office, I am taken aback by the tenor of criticisms of her posted here, particularly regarding constituent services. Her staff is extremely responsive and proactive in advocating for the many constituents who come to the office on a daily basis for help with an array of issues including pending evictions, landlord harassment of rent controlled and stabilized tenants, and other quite serious issues. I would encourage anyone with interest in how the office operates to come by. It is enormously gratifying to volunteer here as I feel that, along with her staff, I am making a positive contribution to my community.
      PS If you would like to find out about eligibility for Rent Freeze programs, need some help negotiating Medicare and other programs, feel free to visit me Monday and Tuesday afternoons between 2 and 6 PM!

      • Bz says:

        To Rosenthal volunteer..Please tell me who to contact in the office. I have gone there in person,written letters and made phone calls. No one follows thru so I have given up. Perhaps things have improved and I will call again

      • Jeff Berger says:

        Cheryl – I appreciate your hard work on behalf of our community.

        However, I worked in Washington DC for a Member of Congress from Upstate New York during the 1980s.. It was back in the day of mail and phone calls. We always responded to every letter and every call within 24 hours.

        The Congressman had one staff member who was responsible for directly making sure that constituent needs were met.

        A constituent never went without an immediate response and if they arrived in person they got personal treatment from a staff member.

        In the 17 years that I have lived in this district, I have never seen Ms. Rosenthal’s staff give that level of service. It is clearly the result of the fact that she knows that unless the demographics change, she is not loosing re-election any time soon.

    28. Peter says:

      Yes! Stop the insanity of AMNH expansion into Teddy Roosevelt park. More building doesn’t mean better. AMNH should use their excess funds to pay their hardworking staff a better wage.

      • sailgirl says:

        Yes, furthering research and education should be stopped so people can have their dog crap closer to a world-class museum or find a bench a half-block closer than at Central Park.

    29. Sharon Canns says:

      There are people who want the expansion of the museum and others with equally good reasons disagree. I have worked with Councilwoman Rosenthal on other very serious issues such as tenant rights, and dangerous traffic problems. She has worked tirelessly to benefit our community.

      • Steve says:

        I agree. Kudos to Helen for being a solid representative.

        Sometimes I have issues with her decisions, but this guy seems like he’s in it for the wrong reasons.