Museum Gets Court Permission to Start Basic Site Work for New Building, With Limits; Both Sides Declare Victory


Construction barriers were set up in the park in September, but work has since been limited.

A state appeals court ruling on Friday gives the Museum of Natural History permission to do some basic work around the site of the planned Richard Gilder Center, while keeping a temporary restraining order in place to stop any further construction or tree removal.

The museum declared victory in a release, saying the ruling had “significantly limited” the restraining order. “Interior work and other necessary exterior work will begin Monday.  For the time being the Museum will not proceed with the removal of 7 trees pending determination of the overall merits of the case, on which we fully expect to prevail,” said David Paget, the museum’s lawyer, in a statement.

But opposition group Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park declared its own victory, saying the court order keeps all of the important parts of the prior order in place.

“They can’t remove any trees, they can’t remove any benches, they can’t remove a single blade of grass, and they can’t do anything that changes the configuration of the Park,” said Attorney Michael Hiller, who argued the case on behalf of Community United.

“I nearly fell of my chair laughing at the Museum’s effort to make their calamitous loss look like a win,” he added.

NEWS | 32 comments | permalink
    1. AC57 says:

      It’s called a compromise, and if we’re being real, the Museum actually got the better end. Look at the site plan, most of the work actually takes place inside the established footprint.

      As much as I support this project, if I were the lawyer, I wouldn’t be laughing, because they got the better end of the deal, because they can do most of their work.

      • Genius boy/Billy NYC/ W. 80th Street Block Association says:

        True… very ture, as I am on Construction Committee most of the building is within their footprint. As I said before it was going to happen no matter what. What a waste of money on the opposite side for the people who donated their hard-working money just for something that was never going to be in there favor.
        So my UWS friends…Let the building begin 👍🏻👻

    2. Genius boy/Billy NYC says:

      Ha ha ha ha ! Of course this is going to happen…who in their right mind would start working on the building thinking it’s not going to happen !
      kudos To the American museum of natural history!!!
      But again it was going to happen anyhow !

      • dannyboy says:

        In your back=to=back comments you repeatedly establish that:

        “As I said before it was going to happen no matter what. What a waste of money on the opposite side for the people who donated their hard-working money just for something that was never going to be in there favor.”

        and

        “Ha ha ha ha ! Of course this is going to happen…But again it was going to happen anyhow !”

        You must know that people in a community are allowed to express their views on this project. And that people can take a principled stand.

        The fact that wealthy and powerful people can dominate outcomes in our neighborhood does not mean that our neighbors can not try to have a say.

        • Genius boy says:

          Nothing wrong with that at all that’s why we live in a free world… let’s be logical, this so-call Committee don’t have ther s—t together. If they did this would not be going on right now, so ridiculous.

    3. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      Rather than take the restraining order as an opportunity to meet with park advocates, the museum bullies ahead.

      How tragic: an institution supposedly committed to science, destroying ecosystems, polluting the air and slaughtering trees.

      The museum could withdraw the current plan and start again, not ignore its neighbors concerns.

      • Rob G. says:

        Hilarious. Sorry, Cary, but the bullies in this case are yourself and “Community United.” You represent anything but the interests of the community.

        The community will actually get an improved, more accessible park, more trees, and a beautiful addition to our wonderful museum from which everyone can benefit.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          whether you agree or disagree with Dr. Goodman and Community United, they are clearly the less financially and politically powerful party in this dispute, thus they cannot possibly be “bullies.”

          • Rob G. says:

            Sure they can, Bruce. Money and bullying aren’t necessarily joined at the hip. (It certainly wasn’t when I was getting jacked up or slammed against my locker in junior high school!)

            In my opinion, bullies such as Cary Goodman and Community United can also use lies, fear-mongering, false accusations and other means as a way to intimidate others.

            • Carnival Canticle says:

              “In my opinion, bullies such as Cary Goodman and Community United can also use lies, fear-mongering, false accusations and other means as a way to intimidate others.”
              Not to mention vandalism. “Save our Park” graffiti painted in foot-high letters on storefronts and walls? Flyers stuck to pillars and posts? Just exercising your First Amendment rights, guys? If these whining ego-trippers cared about the neighborhood,they wouldn’t deface it.

          • UWS_lifer says:

            You are absolutely right, Bruce.

            I think it would be more accurate to call them a nuisance and/or a very vocal, very small minority.

            Long live the museum. I actually think they should knock down a few of the surrounding residential buildings (maybe the ones that these folks live in) and expand even further. That would be great! That would actually give them something to complain about.:)

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Tell me more about this “ecosystem” that is being destroyed on 80th St.

        First the new leader of Brazil wants to start tearing down the Rainforest and now this.:) How will Mother Earth survive??

    4. Maria Fernandez R.N. says:

      The Museum and Public Servants of NYC are degrading public parkland and our air quality
      under the guise of science. This plan is bad science like eugenics and the Tuskegee Project. Not all science is ethical

      • Che says:

        The plan isn’t sound. It exceeds the original footprint and ignores community input and important technicalities. I found AMNH frustrating to navigate, however. Moving amongst exhibits leads to dark spots and dead-ends, like in a maze. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been back since a child when I had to go. Some work is needed though maybe not under the current contract or developer. Hooray for CU.

    5. Jimbo says:

      The facsist museum stole the people’s park and destroyed the lovely allée on the Columbus side that would community has always enjoyed. No more. All for fake progress and a rich man’s ego.

      • Boomer NY says:

        Jimbo (and Cary),

        It is not stealing the park and so many of the “people” want more for the museum too. You constantly “forget” or ignore how many local people want this addition too.

    6. Too bad we can’t replace the museum with more park. Shame on AMNH for its illegal expansion plans. Why not build in an under-served neighborhood?

      Neighborhood residents – that scaffolding is just the beginning of their infringement on your terrain. To fight back, join Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park – http://www.saveourpark.nyc

    7. Great job by Michael Hiller and Community United obtaining this temporary restraining order.

    8. Ellen Azorin says:

      This article is SO misleading. The fact is that the Museum attempted to get the court to vacate the Temporary Restraining Order, and they LOST, plain and simple. As for their work on the interior of the Museum, or the exterior of the existing buildings, that was never at issue. So for them to claim victory (and for you to report it as victory) is simply wrong! Your headline should read something like MUSEUM LOSES ATTEMPT TO REVERSE RESTRAINING ORDER. ALL PARK CONSTRUCTION REMAINS HALTED.

    9. Faith S. says:

      These Museum people are so arrogant–the hell with what the court ordered. They must not touch a blade of grass, remove benches, etc., but these monied, creatures feel that the world is their oyster to do as they see fit. They care not one iota for our community or the world in general–they are building a massive building powered by fossil fuels with not one solar panel in sight. Do you think that the president of the Museum, who is on the Board of Con Ed. has any influence? Is this what we sometimes call corruption do you suppose? And these people will be teaching science to our children!!
      I hope further action will be taken should they ignore the court’s stipulations. Throw them all in jail!

    10. Leslie Mantrone says:

      It disappoints me to see the museum mischaracterizing community sentiment. We oppose museum development that encroaches on parkland. (And development that releases dangerous chemicals and toxins into the environment.) But no one has a problem with them doing interior work within their existing footprint.

    11. P.J. says:

      A catastrophic loss for the museum, a monumental win for the UWS and a milestone step in the successful fight against the museum’s illegal project. Attorney Hiller is right, the museum’s response is laughable. Community United never said the museum couldn’t perform construction activities within their building. CU said the museum couldn’t build in the NYC-owned park and especially was not permitted to remove those 7 trees. This is what the restraining order ruled and what is now being correctly upheld.

      • David says:

        What the park proponents are conveniently not mentioning is that there is another park right across the street from the museum, and it’s somewhat larger than the park eveeyone has been discussing. It’s called Central Park – perhaps you’ve heard of it?

    12. Jay says:

      The museum expansion will happen. This Nimby group’s lame excuses shown here will make it even easier to laugh them out of court.

    13. dannyboy says:

      “The museum declared victory in a release, saying the ruling had “significantly limited” the restraining order.”

      The Museum should be called out for this lying. Promoting false statements and lies is anathema to the AMNH Charter.

      • BillyNYC says:

        You know what the hell you’re talking about, We won! End of story !

        • dannyboy says:

          BillyNYC,

          You keep repeating that “We won! End of story !”

          Who won? Your special interest?

          Community interest?

          Sounds like that other guy who keeps shouting:”We keep winning, you’re gonna’ get tired of winning!” He also means special interests are winning and not the greater good.

          • BillyNYC says:

            WE WON!!!!!!! WE WON!!!!!!!🤜🤛

            • dannyboy says:

              BillyNYC,

              You keep repeating that “We Won!”

              Who won? Your special interest?

              Community interest?

              Sounds like that other guy who keeps shouting:”We keep winning, you’re gonna’ get tired of winning!” He also means special interests are winning and not the greater good.

    14. The AMNH’s claim they somehow won here is almost as transparently delusional as Trump’s claim tonight of “tremendous success” in the election…almost.