Greenwich Village residents are already pre-mourning the loss of a beloved 1.5 acre park that would fall prey to NYU's 2031 expansion plan. Yesterday some 50 people gathered in Washington Square Village’s Sasaki Garden to mourn its destruction if the City Council approves NYU’s request for zoning changes. The 53-year-old garden would be razed and replaced with towers.
Locals who live in the shadow of NYU have been fighting the university's relentless expansion since the 1940s, and at this juncture the NYU faculty is almost unanimously opposing the development, with opposing resolutions passing in 34 departments, according to Mark Miller of NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. Miller, a professor of media studies and well-known commentator, also lives in Washington Square Village, and is fighting hard to save its garden.
“It’s infuriating,” Miller said. “We can’t afford to let them win.” Miller explained that the expansion plan would hurt NYU financially and academically. “It also threatens to destroy our university. Nobody will win if this thing is approved. Everybody will ultimately be sorry.” Also at the rally was Ralph Swain, nephew of architect Hideo Sasaki, who created the garden in 1959. It is one of the first rooftop gardens covering a parking garage in the country.
Swain, who only learned of the garden’s pending destruction last week, flew in from Arizona to testify in front of the City Council today. (Matthew Broderick also spoke out against the expansion plan this morning.) “I was shocked and dismayed to hear that my uncle’s garden was going to be destroyed,” Swain said. “I’m really upset with the fact that this might disappear.”
Although rally attendees melodramatically eulogized the park, strewing flowers to mourn the loss of its beauty, it was clear that the garden’s destruction was not their only concern. “Twenty years of construction will also destroy the property value,” one long-time resident explained. “If they destroy the Village then people won’t come to the Village anymore.”