'Paw-rade' Against Village Dog Run Move Part of Anti-NYU Expansion Rally

By Andrea Swalec on February 10, 2012 9:28pm 

Anti-NYU expansion 'Underdogs' Truman and Luna Bear tried on their costumes in preparation for an anti-NYU expansion rally set for Feb. 11, 2012.
Anti-NYU expansion 'Underdogs' Truman and Luna Bear tried on their costumes in preparation for an anti-NYU expansion rally set for Feb. 11, 2012.
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Vinny Capozzi

MANHATTAN — Greenwich Village pooches that would lose their Mercer Street dog run if the city approves NYU's 20-year expansion plan will lead the pack in an anti-NYU 2031 rally scheduled for Saturday afternoon. 

At least 50 "underdogs," some of which will be dressed in capes and paw-bands made by the 300-member Mercer-Houston Dog Run Association, will meet in the small park at 11 a.m., its president, Beth Gottlieb, said Friday.  

"This dog run is ground zero for NYU's plan, and we would like to see its relocation stopped," she said, noting that the plan to create four new buildings on the two large blocks bordered by Mercer Street, West Houston Street, LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street would affect the dog run for the span of some canines' entire lives. 

NYU's rezoning application, which entered the city's seven-month-long public review process in January, would move the dog run west to make room for the construction of the proposed 275-foot-tall Zipper Building, an NYU spokeswoman said.

Dog owners have said the placement of the dog run there would expose pooches to construction dust for more than four years and disturb residents of nearby Silver Tower 1. 

The gathering of dogs and their owners is just one part of a noon to 2 p.m., rain-or-shine protest at Judson Memorial Church called for by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who will be supported by community associations, including the Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031 and Friends of LaGuardia Place.

Glick said she called for the rally to give locals "an opportunity to focus their energies outside the limited purview of the community board." 

"It's important to give neighborhood associations a time to connect with each other and to demonstrate to those who have a role in the [rezoning review process] … the strong and determined nature of opposition to this extensive plan to remake a significant portion of the Village," she said in an interview Friday. 

Glick said NYU's building plan would reduce open space in the Village, increase density and the amount of retail space, create 20 years of construction noise, and cast huge shadows. 

Despite her grim assessment of the risks of NYU 2031, Saturday's rally at 55 Washington Square South will be fun, Glick noted. 

"Just in time for Valentine's Day, this is a 'love the Village' event." 

A limited number of extra dog capes and paw-bands will be available at the rally, Gottlieb said. 

NYU, which says it needs to expand to create more academic space, has repeatedly affirmed its willingness to work with locals to reach a development plan that meets everyone's needs. 

“As NYU continues to move through the city’s mandated public review process, we look forward to continuing our discussions with all stakeholders involved," school spokesman John Beckman said in a statement Friday regarding the rally.

During the next six months, Community Board 2 and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will issue advisory votes on the plan. It will then be subject to approval by the City Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council.

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