Court to hear appeal in 2031 case

Jimmy Chin, Contributing Writer

NYU 2031 is headed to the state’s highest court, as the Court of Appeals agreed on Tuesday to hear the case for the controversial plan.

Previously, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that construction on the so-called implied parkland on the Mercer Street superblocks would require special permission from the state legislature. The court’s Appellate Division overturned this ruling in October 2014.

NYU professor and member of Faculty Against the Sexton Plan Andrew Ross said he predicts the Court of Appeals will rule in the oppositions’ favor.

“We expect the court will observe the public trust doctrine and uphold the original decision by the lower judge,” Ross said. “We also hope the court will order the administration to rethink the entire plan. There is a lot more at stake here than just the NYU expansion. The court’s decision will shape the future of public parks in New York State as a whole.”

Mark Crispin Miller, Steinhardt professor and member of FASP, said some of the group’s concerns included the the endangerment of parkland, insufficient expansion of academic space, possible tuition increases and the university’s failure to release a business plan and university property holding.

“To put it simply, faculty oppose the plan because it has no academic rationale, and — unless we stop it — will put NYU itself at risk, financially and academically,” Miller said.

University spokesperson John Beckman said the opposition’s claims are misinformed.

“The opponents are simply wrong in a lot of what they say,” Beckman said. “The University has been open about its data, and that plan is affordable and won’t have a significant impact on tuition.”

Beckman said he predicts the court will uphold the lower court’s decision.

“In terms of our view of the case, NYU continues to believe fully in this project — which was approved 44-1 by the City
Council — and in the strength of our case —which was strongly and unanimously upheld by the Appellate Division,” Beckman said. “We are optimistic about another positive outcome when the Court of Appeals ultimately rules.”

The Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee will release a report later this week about development updates.

Patrick Deer, the principal author of FASP’s alternate plans for NYU development, responded to Beckman’s statement on
data transparency.

“These documents don’t constitute a business plan because they still do not answer the urgent concerns of many faculty about the plan,” Deer said. “What is missing is any kind of plan for how NYU is to pay down the vast increase in its debt service between now and 2021.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Mar. 3 print edition. Email Jimmy Chin at [email protected].