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Natural History Museum Expansion Foes Target Councilwoman, Community Board

By Emily Frost | January 6, 2016 6:25pm
 Cary Goodman is planning to picket City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal's office as part of an ongoing protest of the Natural History Museum's planned expansion.
Cary Goodman is planning to picket City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal's office as part of an ongoing protest of the Natural History Museum's planned expansion.
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — A group of residents opposed to the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History who first took aim at museum board member Tina Fey are now targeting Community Board 7 and City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal

The group, led by resident Cary Goodman, has demanded that the board take a stance on the proposed $325 million expansion at a full board meeting Tuesday. Some locals have opposed the expansion plan because it could result in the loss of trees and green space in an adjacent public park.

"I think it’s unfair of this community board to have on its website the museum’s plan and the museum’s press release and nothing from those of us who oppose it," Goodman said, echoing the sentiments of others in attendance.

The board's website states: "View the conceptual design" and includes a link to the museum's website page that has frequently asked questions, drawings and other information.

Community Board 7 chairwoman Elizabeth Caputo said Tuesday that while the board would hear comments on the issue during its public comment session, it was not addressing the expansion as a business item that needed to be voted on at the meeting. 

"The board has not yet taken a position on either side," she said.

CB7's land use committee expects to review the plans as part of the public process the museum must go through in seeking city approval for the expansion, she said. 

As part of its strategy, the group also plans to picket City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal's office in the near future, calling on her to withdraw her support for the plan. They have not yet set a date for the action, Goodman noted. 

"To encroach on our parkland… is just very retro. It’s not moving with the times," said resident Maria Fernandez at the meeting. 

Rosenthal said in a statement that the public review process hasn't started yet, but that it will give opportunities for public testimony and that she looks forward to a "robust conversation."

"I'm proud to represent one of the most politically engaged districts in this city, and residents are welcome to voice their opinions outside of my office and anywhere else they choose...I fully support the education mission of the American Museum of Natural History, and the proposal in its current form supports this mission," she said. 

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