MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Actor Matthew Broderick was among more than 100 people who attended the first court hearing Tuesday for Greenwich Village groups trying to stop NYU's city-approved expansion.
Broderick, who testified against the NYU 2031 expansion at a City Council hearing in June, said he joins many of his neighbors in challenging the legality of the university's plans to create four new buildings on land previously used for recreation.
"NYU has taken more and more of what's unique about the Village," the actor said, noting that he's a Village native who still lives in the neighborhood. "Parks make the city livable."
Lawyers for 11 groups who filed a lawsuit in Manhattan State Supreme Court in September argued in court Tuesday that they should be allowed to review NYU correspondence in an attempt to prove the city and state illegally approved the university's planned use of publicly owned parkland on two large blocks bordered by LaGuardia Place, Mercer Street, West Houston Street and West Third Street.
However, NYU and city lawyers argue that though the land in question has been used for recreation, it was never officially part of a city or state park.
"[The land] cannot be considered parkland," NYU attorney Alan Levine said.
Lawyer Randy Mastro, who represents the plaintiffs, said there's ample proof that the land was parkland, including the fact it was marked with Parks Department signs and the agency maintained it.
"If it walks like a park and talks like a park and looks like a park — it's a park," he said.
Justice Donna Mills granted the plaintiffs permission to restate their argument to review NYU documents at a future date in court.
"There is enough [evidence] that I have to see the issue," she said.
The case will be heard in court again on March 20.
Following years of debate, the City Council approved a modified version of NYU's expansion plans in July, reducing the density of the development.