Article: These Parks Are Our Parks

These Parks Are Our Parks

An Examination Of The Privatization Of Public Parks In New York City And The Public Trust Doctrine’s Protections

By Thomas Honan 1


The Great GoogaMooga, advertised as “an amusement park of Food, Drink, & Music” was a music, artisan food, and drink festival in Prospect Park.2 GoogaMooga lasted two days during the summer of 2012 and three days during the summer 2013,3 and demonstrates the negative impact of private use on public space.4 The Prospect Park Alliance, a non-profit organization founded to raise private funds to supplement the financing of Prospect Park,5 and Superfly, a privately owned music festival company, organized GoogaMooga. 6 The festival was strategically placed in Nethermead Meadow, a lovely tree-lined meadow located in the center of the park.7 Nethermead Meadow is traditionally used by the public for dog walking, tossing a football, and gathering with friends for a picnic, the leisure activities one would expect to take place in a park meadow. Over the three-day event, Nethermead Meadows played host to approximately 120,000 people, and accommodated approximately 75 restaurant stands, 65 drink stations, and two stages where 20 bands performed.8 As one Prospect Park local aptly put it, “It’s like bringing a boombox into a library – it doesn’t belong there.”9

The festival was intended as a fund-raising opportunity for the park.10 The idea was that the event would raise sufficient funds to provide a benefit to all the park users.11 Instead, the festival resulted in the destruction of the Nethermead Meadow and prevented the public from its use for a month after it ended.12 Additionally, the festival was promoted as a community event.13 The Great GoogaMooga website explains: “And that’s why The Great GoogaMooga is more than a festival. It’s a community brought together by a shared passion.”14 However, many of the communities surrounding the park were unable to attend because of the high admission cost of $79.50,15 and the Nethermead Meadow prevented non-ticket holders from access by way of a fence.16 The most disturbing aspect of The Great GoogaMooga experience is that in consideration for allowing the park’s use, The Prospect Park Alliance received a mere $75,000.17 Essentially, the festival was intended to provide a substantial benefit to the public and promoted itself as a community event, when in reality the surrounding community lost part of its park for a month.

The GoogaMooga experience illustrates the effects privatization can have on the public’s use of its parks. Public parks are areas of land that are dedicated to be used for the public interest.18 Since the 1970s, there has been a steady trend toward the privatization of public parks in New York City.19 Over the past ten years, new models of privatization have emerged, and, more than ever, the public is in danger of losing out on its use of parks.20 This trend corresponds with a substantial decrease in state and city funding for public parks.21 Since 2008, the City has slashed its overall maintenance and operation of parks budget by 21%.22

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Vol. 18.1 – The Economic Justice Issue

Explore the digital version of  Volume 18.1, the Economic Justice Issue.


Introduction – To Economic Justice Themed Issue.

 Public Interest Practitioners Section (PIPS)

MFY Legal Services, Inc.’s Medical  Legal Partnership with Bellevue Hospital Center: Providing Legal Care to Children with Psychiatric Disabilities, by Aleah Gathings, Staff Attorney at MFY Legal Services, Inc. and on-site attorney at Bellevue Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Clinic


Elevating Substance over Procedure: The Retroactivity of Miller v. Alabama under Teague v. Lane, by Brandon Buskey, Staff attorney, American Civil Liberties Union, Criminal Law Reform Project & Daniel Korobkin, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

A Founding Failure of Enforcement:  Freedmen, Day Laborers, and the Perils of an Ineffectual State, by Raja Raghunath, Assistant Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law.


One Condo, One Vote: The New York BID Act as a Threat to Equal Protection and Democratic Control, by Brett Dolin, J.D. Candidate ’15, City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.

No Access, No Choice: Foster Care Youth, Abortion, and State Removal of Children, by Kara Sheli Wallis, J.D. Candidate ‘15, City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.


The Long Crisis: Economic Inequality in New York City, A Conversation between Fahd Ahmed, Inequality in New York City Tom Angotti, Jennifer Jones Austin, Shawn Blumberg, & Robin Steinberg, Moderated by Professor Stephen Loffredo.

Equity & Efficiency: The Role and Practice of Diversity in Legal Scholarship

Four CUNY Law Editors (Violeta Arciniega, Digital Articles Editor; Elizabeth Koo, Editor-in-Chief; Julie Pennington, Managing Articles Editor; and Nabila Taj, Managing Editor) cowrote a blog post for Ms. JD about their experiences trying to expand diversity on law reviews:

Law journals are thought centers of innovative arguments for social change. They are platforms to challenge norms and disseminate bold concepts into the marketplace of ideas to influence courts, inform legislators, and shape public opinion.

This means that diversity initiatives are crucial to the legal profession and to the culture of law school, and law journals specifically, because they work to correct the persistent underrepresentation of the people fighting prejudice and poverty, dealing with the consequences of racially-biased laws, and surviving in a society unwilling to accommodate their needs.

The rest of “Equity & Efficiency: The Role and Practice of Diversity in Legal Scholarship” is available on the Ms. JD Blog.

Event: First Toast

First Toast
Tuesday, April 28 @ 5-11 pm

The First Toast is a celebration to honor the work of the Law Review.  The outgoing Board toasts to a successful upcoming year, and the incoming Board toasts to the old Board‘s hard work and achievements throughout the past year.

The event is open to the entire student body, regardless of whether or not you are a member of the law review.

Come out to celebrate the year, mingle with Law Review, and enjoy discounted drinks!

Alewife NYC
5-14 51st Ave Long Island City, NY


CUNY Law Review 17.2 Author, G. Flint Taylor’s Article in In These Times


CUNY Law Review 17.2 Author, G. Flint Taylor’s Article in In These Times 

CUNY Law Review 17.2 author, G. Flint Taylor recently published an article with In These Times focusing on Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge which he discusses in length in his CUNY Law Review article: The Chicago Police Torture Scandal: A Legal and Political History

Flint Taylor is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and together with his law partner Jeffrey Haas was trial counsel in the marathon 1976 civil trial. He has also represented many survivors of Chicago police torture, and has done battle with the Chicago Police Department—and the Fraternal Order of Police—on numerous occasions over his 45 year career as a people’s lawyer.


You can read G. Flint Taylor’s piece in In These Times Here:

To Catch a Torturer: One Attorney’s 28-Year Pursuit of Racist Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge

You can read G. Flint Taylor’s CUNY Law Review Article Here:

The Chicago Police Torture Scandal: A Legal and Political History by G. Flint Taylor, founding partner, People’s Law Office (PLO).


TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY TO RANA PLAZA: Building Movements for Labor Rights & Corporate Accountability

CUNY School of Law, Room 1/202
2 Court Square
Long Island City, 11101

CUNY Law Review, in collaboration with the Labor Coalition, is hosting a compelling panel next week on labor rights and the garment industry.

Prof. Shirley Lung will be moderating the conversation

Katherine Gallagher
Center for Constitutional Rights

Chaumtoli Huq
American Institute for Bangladesh Studies
(Skyping in from Bangladesh!)

Sophie DeBenedetto
National Mobilization Against Sweatshops

There will be a wine and hors-d’oeuvre reception following
the panel.

Please register at:

The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area

The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, Forty-five Years Later:
Affordable to Whom?

By Eugene Chen

I. Background

From the 1950s through the 1960s, two thousand families with low incomes were displaced from their homes when the City of New York embarked on an urban renewal plan targeting the area east along Delancey Street at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, otherwise known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA).1 Forty-five years later, the “Seward Park Slum Clearance Project” left 165 million square feet of parking lot space, devoid of any signs of human occupation aside from the coming and going of vehicles. After a contentious community debate, the City Council passed a resolution (the “Resolution”) on October 11, 2012, for a mixed-use plan to develop SPURA.2 Proposals were due to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) on May 6, 2013, and on September 18, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Delancey Street Associates LLC, a joint venture composed of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners, had been selected to develop the site.3 The plan calls for 60/40 residential and commercial development, with 500 units of permanently affordable housing, out of the 1000 units of housing being built.4 In all likelihood, the developer chosen to develop SPURA will apply for the 421-a tax exemption, an incentive intended to encourage the construction of market-rate and affordable housing in New York City (the “City”).

The decision by the City to develop SPURA forty-five years later galvanized community groups and residents in Manhattan Community Board 3 (“CB3”), a neighborhood historically made up of low-income immigrants, who wanted to ensure that the project would benefit the community and not just enrich private developers.5 Though community boards did not exist6 when the City razed the area it deemed a “slum” in the 1960s, it was at community board meetings and hearings that the community voiced demands for more affordable housing, the construction of more schools in a burdened school district, prevailing wage jobs, and a ban on big-box stores in the plan for SPURA. This paper will examine the meaning of “affordability,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the concept of Area Median Income, the alternative definition of affordability known as Local Median Income, and the role of the 421-a Real Property Tax Exemption in the creation of affordable housing.

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CUNITY Conversations: Toxic Sweatshops: Regulating the Import of Hazardous Electronics with Allie Robbins

Come join us for the fourth and final installment of our discussion series, CUNITY Conversations!

CUNITY Conversations is a discussion series designed to create discussion around a particular topic. It is an informal time to get together, hang out, and talk about a relevant social justice issue.

The next installment of the CUNITY Conversation series is Wednesday, April 1, from 1-2:45 pm, in the Community Room, 3/116.

Bring your lunch and join us for snacks plus great conversation discussing Allie Robbin’s article, “Toxic Sweatshops: Regulating the Import of Hazardous Electronics.”

The article discusses the rise in consumer use of personal electronic devices and how it has led to a boom in electronics manufacturing worldwide. Along with the expansion of production have come serious questions about the safety of production processes, as large numbers of workers and their children have become seriously ill. This article proposes that the United States, as a leading importer of electronic devices and components, create an Electronics Import Safety Commission to make sure that both workers and consumers are safe. This commission, modeled after the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, would monitor and regulate electronics manufacturing and would enhance transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain.

Join the dicussion on Twitter and Facebook on the hashtag #cunityconvo.

New Board Members Announced

Congratulations to the 2015 – 2016 CUNY Law Review Board!

Samuel Bruce
Elizabeth Vulaj
Digital Articles Editors

Hoda Mitwally
Executive Articles Editor

Jonathan Cantarero
Serena Newell
Chloe Serinsky
Notes & Comments Editors

Aubree D’Alfonso
Alanna Sakovits
Public Interest Practitioner Section (PIPS) Editors

Leonard Leveille
Special Events Editor

Jacqueline Meese
AJ Wipfler
Managing Articles Editors

Tom Power
Managing Editor

Alexandria E. Nedd

Storytelling Guantánamo: Using Creative Advocacy & Lawyering to Challenge Dominant Political and Media Narratives


CUNY Law Review, in collaboration with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), presents:

Omar Farah, Staff Attorney, CCR
Murtaza Hussain, Journalist, The Intercept
Professor Ramzi Kassem, Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic
Aliya Hussain, Moderator, Advocacy Program Manager, CCR

Andrew Adams & Syeda Tasnim
Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, Law & Security Docket

6PM, TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015
Reception at 6pm, panel begins at 6:30pm
CUNY School of Law, Community Room, 3/116
2 Court Square
Long Island City, 11101

Please register at: