Village Leaders Vow to Protect New Playground from NYU Expansion

By Andrea Swalec on June 7, 2013 4:17pm 

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 Adrienne's Garden, a toddlers' playground, opened June 6, 2013.
Adrienne's Garden Opens in Greenwich Village
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — A new playground opened Thursday on a Greenwich Village block slated to undergo a massive overhaul by NYU for its planned expansion next decade — but local leaders vowed to fight to keep the play-space from being shuttered.

Elected officials, city Parks Department representatives and eager children attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for Adrienne's Garden, a greenspace on the southeast corner of West Third Street and LaGuardia Place. The toddlers' playground memorializing late Village activist and teacher Adrienne Goldberg features a dragon-shaped sculpture on which kids can climb on the dragon's scales and slide down its tongue.

But the playground is only set to remain open for nine years, when NYU will begin city-approved construction to create additional space on its campus.

Alicia Hurley, the university's vice president for community engagement, said Adrienne's Garden will need to be shuttered when construction on the planned LaGuardia Building located on the northern "superblock" of the expansion plan begins in 2022.

"Once construction begins on the building planned along LaGuardia Place on the northern block, the garden will be displaced," she said in a statement. "But at the conclusion of construction, the garden will be expanded and relocated on the city-owned strip of land along LaGuardia Place."

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin promised to fight to keep Adrienne's Garden where it is.

"We will make sure that the playground will continue to be here," she said.

David Gruber, the chair of Community Board 2 — which was a fierce critic of the NYU 2031 plan — also vowed to fight the displacement of the playground.

"Residents, those stakeholders in the NYU community and park advocates will fight unabated to keep this playground undisturbed, un-relocated, untouched by any proposed development schemes circling overhead," he said.

City Council approved the controversial NYU expansion plan in July 2012. The university will create four new buildings on the two large blocks bordered by LaGuardia Place, Mercer Street, West Houston Street and West Third Street.

Lawrence Goldberg said Thursday that his late wife, who died of illness in 2008 at age 63, designed the playground over the course of six years with the Parks Department, the neighborhood association Friends of LaGuardia Place, the Center for Architecture Foundation and local kids.

"She would have been so happy today," Goldberg said. "She would have had a smile from ear to ear."

Once Adrienne's Garden closes in 2022, families will have access to Mercer Playground, located on Mercer Street between Bleecker and West Third streets, through 2027, an NYU spokesman said. Construction is scheduled to start then on the Mercer Building included in the university's expansion.

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