Friday, March 23, 2012

Removing Fences: an Update and a Freedom of Information Lawsuit

Construction "Work" by the fenced Jean Dubuffet sculptures.
Image taken by Francisca Benitez and manipulated by Quilian Riano
Earlier this week the OWS community sought to celebrate the six month anniversary of the occupation in Zuccotti Park (also known as Liberty Plaza).  The response by the NYPD was violent and it lead to mass arrests and the illegal re-fencing of the Privately-Owned Public Space.

The Village Voice took the occasion to echo a previous article on #whOWNSpace's efforts at Zuccotti Park and ask the question: "Was Zuccotti Park Legally Allowed To Be Closed This Weekend?" Legal experts quoted agreed; it was not. However, many of you again took time to contact the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) and the barricades -- belonging to private security -- came off soon after.

While the barricades around Zuccotti have been removed; they are stored in the corner of the plaza, and we are monitoring the DOB's response to a complaint that such storage is not in the approved plans for the public plaza.

The Chase Manhattan Plaza, however, is still fenced. In "Fences Are Still Up -- What's Going On At Chase Manhattan Plaza?, the Village Voice reports:
There's now work going on at Chase Manhattan Plaza. At least, that's the impression you'd get from the handful of flagstones that have been torn up from the plaza and surrounded by orange safety cones. But in the weeks since this apparent work began, there hasn't been much working to be seen. Most days, behind the fences, the plaza is as deserted and silent as it has been since September 15.
Concerned New Yorker and Department of Buildings expert Richard Nagan, an agent of Nagan Ex, Inc., decided to find out what the scope of the approved work was – just how long could we anticipate this favorite spring and summer hang out would be off limits? But his request for the plans was met with a blanket denial by the DOB. The plans would not be made available unless Nagan got the permission of the building owners. The DOB claimed disclosing plans for surface waterproofing work without permission from Chase, the bank that has been keeping the public off the plaza for the last six months, would somehow be a danger to life or safety.  

Yesterday, Nagan Ex., Inc., represented by Rankin & Taylor, PLLC and supported by #whOWNSpace, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit in New York Supreme Court for disclosure of the plans.

For more information please see:
#whOWNSpace Press Release
Activists Sue Department of Buildings to Force Disclosure of Approved Plans for Stalled Construction Work

Richard Nagan v. New York Department of Buildings
Freedom of Information lawsuit

03.27.2012 UPDATE
In The Village Voice:

JP Morgan Chase's Life-And-Death Secret Waterproofing Plan
​The ongoing fight to reopen Chase Manhattan Plaza in the Financial District has taken a strange turn. The nation's biggest bank has undertaken a (possibly imaginary) waterproofing repair project in the plaza. But this is no ordinary (possibly imaginary) waterproofing repair project; this one is so critical, so high-stakes, that the NYPD and the Buildings Department say details of the plan must be kept top secret, because people lives are on the line... read more

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