AMNH Expansion work to continue


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The latest court decision allows the American Museum of Natural History to continue work on the Gilder Center while upholding the provisions of a previous court order.


Photos



  • Portions of Teddy Roosevelt Park are currently inaccessible due to preliminary work on the AMNH’s Gilder Center expansion plan. Photo: Michael Garofalo




The ongoing legal battle between the American Museum of Natural History and the Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park continued last week with a new court order issued by the Appellate Division, First Department, allowing work to proceed on the museum’s $383 million Gilder Center expansion project. According to the Appellate Court’s decision, provisions of a temporary restraining issued by a lower court will remain intact.

The latest in the contentious legal battle between the museum and the community group comes on the heels of an Oct. 29 temporary restraining order issued by New York State Supreme Court Justice Lynn R. Kotler, halting the museum from continuing work on the 200,000-square-foot expansion, pending the outcome of Dec. 11 hearing.

A statement issued by American Museum of Natural History attorney David Paget hailed the outcome as a victory “that will allow work to proceed immediately on the Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.”

Community United’s co-president, Claudia DiSalvo, and William Raudenbush, the organization’s vice president, applauded the higher court’s decision to maintain provisions of the temporary restraining order.

“As a direct result, seven iconic Canopy Trees — three of which have been designated as endangered species by the State of New York — and other greenery and wildlife in the Park will be saved. Pathways will remain. And the park will remain a beloved oasis in this community,” they said in a statement.

In late 2017, the American Museum of Natural History won city approval for the Gilder Center expansion, which includes new classrooms and exhibition spaces.

The legal challenge originally filed by Community United to protect the park’s green space, and the surrounding community from environmental hazards, argues that the museum is not authorized to build in the park without triggering an additional and extensive city land use review procedure.

The group’s claims about the environmental hazards have been disputed by both the museum and the city.

According to the museum, work on the expansion project proceeded on Monday.





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