I. BACKGROUND/DESCRIPTION OF THE PLAYGROUND:
Located between the FDR Drive, 1st Avenue, 41st and 42nd Streets, Robert Moses Playground is a one and a half acre neighborhood playground which includes a playground, dog run, sport courts, and greenery. Situated in a densely populated area of midtown known for its scarcity of parks, Robert Moses Playground provides East Side residents a rare bit of open space. Sitting across from the United Nations, the playground is bifurcated by the Queens-Midtown Tunnel ventilating tower, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and #7 train tunnels also pass directly beneath and alongside the playground. This full-block site was acquired by the City of NY in 1937 as part of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel construction, one of Robert Moses many undertakings. The playground was completed in 1941, and was named in honor and memory of Robert Moses by the City Council in 1982, when a proposal to build an apartment tower on it was defeated.
Robert Moses is singularly responsible for making New York City the success story it is today. The next time you go to a playground, remember it was Robert Moses who made the proliferation of those playgrounds possible. Specifically, the number of playgrounds was increased, thanks to Moses, from 119 to 777.
Yet for all the parks Moses created, the one and only city recreational area that bears his name is a small playground near the United Nations building.
Following is a link to the official NYC Parks & Recreation website page:
Robert Moses Playground is a fully functioning and highly active playground, benefitting those in the Midtown East Community in need of a sports venue. There is not another similar facility within the Community. To disturb the one and only playground bearing his name would be an affront to the memory of Robert Moses, a great visionary and New Yorker.
Following is a link to the current Field and Court Usage Report for Robert Moses Playground.
On one side, the playground features a blacktop surface used mainly by a roller hockey league, baseball and soccer players, and by children learning to bicycle ride and roller blade in a safe environment close to their homes. Click below to hear the children tell their story and share their thoughts and opinions including that “we have enough tall buildings”:
On the other side of the playground are a Dog Run, handball courts, tennis wall, several basketball courts, and an active NYC Parks and Recreation building which includes Male and Female public bathrooms regularly frequented by athletes, dog walkers, taxi drivers and M42 bus drivers.
In 2007, Assemblyman Kavanagh was quoted in a New York Times article: But the playground is 66 years old, and many neighbors say the esplanade is no substitute for this longstanding neighborhood institution. “What they’re proposing is park space for jogging or biking, or for people to sit on a bench and look at the river,” said Brian Kavanagh, the local state assemblyman. “That’s no replacement for a playground that’s used for active sports and kids running around.”
Click here to and here to read NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s stated position on saving Robert Moses Playground. Maloney declared “Finally, the plan encourages “open space mitigation” for a new United Nations structure that was proposed for Robert Moses Park. As stated above, this development plan has been shelved and hopefully will never be revived. It should be noted that a promise of an esplanade to be built in the future would never have been acceptable mitigation for the loss of open park space. Alienating park land makes no sense in this densely urban area”.
Finally, the plan encourages “open space mitigation” for a new United Nations structure that was proposed for Robert Moses Park. As stated above, this development plan has been shelved and hopefully will never be revived. It should be noted that a promise of an esplanade to be built in the future would never have been acceptable mitigation for the loss of open park space. Alienating park land makes no sense in this densely urban area. The promise that an esplanade would eventually be constructed leaves many uncertainties.
Local politicians (particularly Dan Garodnick) proposed that Midtown East residents who currently use the Robert Moses Playground travel down to his lifelong and current neighborhood in Kips Bay at 24th Street and First Avenue to use the Asser Levy Playground. Well, it was only available for five or six months at the most, and then it was gone, and now those wanting to use a gym must head more than a mile away to East River Park to work out on city recreation equipment. Any fool can plainly see that this far away (and sometimes closed – see next link) Playground is no substitute for Robert Moses Playground.
II. THE ISSUE – PROPOSED SEIZURE OF THE PLAYGROUND – A REAL ESTATE “GRAB” BY FORMER MAYOR BLOOMBERG ON BEHALF OF UN DEVELOPMENT CORP:
Midtown Residents were stunned to learn that the United Nations (UN) is proposing to erect an office tower of the same height as the current UN building where the Robert Moses Playground now stands. The proposed building would be used for UN staff. Community residents are outraged at the idea of losing a public playground. Before the UN could take over a public playground, the New York State legislature would have to agree to allow the taking, and it has in fact has just done so. New York City is supposed to provide comparable active playground space before this existing playground could be taken. Here is a link to the “substitute” space which has been proposed. Taking away Robert Moses Playground means that Midtown East residents would not have a playground in the area of Robert Moses Playground.
Click here to read the “MOU” which they signed on October 5, 2011. The MOU was signed by 3 officials, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilman Sheldon Silver (now serving time in jail on federal corruption charges), and NY State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (now serving time in jail for federal corruption charges). This MOU has now expired and should not be allowed to be extended without a new and proper review by honest individuals.
Here is a link to the budget request to support the project
The United Nations Development Corporation (UNDC) is the owner of 2 large office buildings on First Avenue in Manhattan known as #1 United Nations Plaza and #2 United Nations Plaza. The United Nations has rented office space for its staff from the United Nations Development Corporation for many years, and now the City of New York would like to sell those buildings and evict the UN employees working there (since the buildings are prime real estate and would be more attractive to a prospective buyer or buyers if delivered vacant). It is interesting to note that the UN itself (not to be confused with UNDC) has been silent on this matter, and would appear that the UN has little or no interest in moving their staff from their present offices at #1 and #2 UN Plaza.
Some parties are trying to present this as an issue of whether or not to erect an esplanade along the edge of FDR Drive from 42nd to 48th Street. No one opposes the creation of an esplanade. In fact, many Midtown East residents who oppose the seizing of Robert Moses Playground are avid bicycle riders, and would use the proposed esplanade along the river if and when it is built. We do not accept the argument that the building of the esplanade requires the seizure of Robert Moses Playground. An esplanade and bike path has been built around the river in much of Manhattan and that did not require the seizure of forfeiture of any property. It does not have to be an either/or situation as the former Mayor attempted to turn New Yorker against New Yorker.
The City of New York has already completed Phase 1 of the East River Waterfront Esplanade. Nowhere on the NYC Economic Development Corporation website does it mention the need to seize Robert Moses Playground for the esplanade project to proceed.
We see the real issue being that the city wants to make a “land grab” – to alienate a needed and actively used playground, evict UN employees from their present offices, and then possibly sell its 2 office buildings. Further, it would take years to build an esplanade, assuming that the City is able to obtain the Federal permits required to build it in a navigable waterway, and the permission from U.N., Federal, State and local security experts to build an esplanade directly behind the U.N. All the above would likely take years to work out, while the Robert Moses Playground would be taken away immediately. The community cannot afford to lose the only active playground space in a community that has the second least amount of playground space in the city.
Mayor Bloomberg’s sister, Marjorie Tiven, worked hard for several years to placate opponents of the U.N. expansion project. Marjorie Tiven, who was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, by her brother in February 2002, was a director of the United Nations Development Corp. (UNDC), the city-state entity overseeing the proposed seizure of the Robert Moses Playground on Manhattan’s East Side near the U.N. headquarters.
III. OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED PROJECT
A) George Brown, President of the Tudor City Association (TCA) has gone on written public record stating that the Tudor City Association, (speaking on behalf of the residents of nearby Tudor City) unequivocally and unconditionally opposes the seizure of Robert Moses Playground and erection of the proposed building.
B) Please read this Sept. 22, 2011 NY Post article entitled “Paying the UN to Steal a Park”
C) Click here to read the report published in July 2012 on how the UN managed its recent renovation, that it is unclear about its future plans, and how Mayor Bloomberg tried to force the UN to accept an unsafe building which they haven’t said they want on Robert Moses Playground. Click here to read about how well the UN managed the renovation of its existing building.
D) THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION also has lots to say about the proposed project:
“Therefore, the Obama Administration should:
Request immediately all relevant details, plans, and cost estimates related to the transfer of the Robert Moses Playground to the U.N. and the construction of a new U.N. tower. This information should be provided to Congress, and the Administration should facilitate access to additional details and materials as necessary.
To encourage cooperation by the U.N. and the Administration, Congress should:
1) Inform the Administration, the United Nations, and the government of New York that it has questions relating to the financial implications of the real estate deal and the proposed new tower for the U.S. federal budget. Congress should insist on detailed analysis of the project’s expenses and the anticipated financial implications for the U.S. federal government resulting from the property deal and new U.N. building and related costs through the U.N. budget.
2) Hold hearings to determine the direct or indirect costs associated with the new U.N. tower and whether they are justified. Congress should examine (1) why the U.N. believes that the new tower is necessary; (2) the projected cost of constructing the new tower and compensating New York for the property; (3) the design and plans for a new tower; (4) the financial implications of abrogating current leases and negotiating new leases for the new building through the United Nations Development Corporation; (5) the projected cost of moving to the new tower and any other projected or likely expenses; and (6) how the U.N. expects to pay for those costs and expenses.
3) Require the Administration to provide a detailed assessment of the financial implications of the prospective deal for the U.N. regular budget percent over the next 10 years. Congress is currently deciding how to reduce America’s budget deficit over the next 10 years. This project has financial implications for that effort. Since Congress cannot compel U.N. officials to testify or require the organization to provide specific documents or other financial data, it must seek information from the State Department or other U.S. officials with knowledge of the project.
4) Prohibit the use of any federal funds to support, either directly or indirectly, the preparatory efforts for or construction of the new U.N. tower until this information is provided. This prohibition should also extend to all New York City projects involving the Robert Moses Playground or the waterfront esplanade along the East River. ”
E) Read what Fox reporter George Russell has to say about the project and the UN’s finances:, “U.N. Eyes Playground for Site of Second Expensive NYC High-Rise,”
Constructing a new building on the north lawn of the current U.N. headquarters in New York is estimated to cost $1.97 billion.
Constructing a new building in another location is estimated to be $2.42 billion. (The U.S.A. pays about 22 percent of regular U.N budgets, and about 26 percent of the peacekeeping budgets.)
In other words, according to the U.N., the new tower will cost about five to six times the earlier, widely reported cost estimate.
Total costs will be even higher. The report notes that the new estimates don’t include financing costs. Nor does it likely include the additional security-related costs.
What the new estimates mean, then, is that the new U.N. building looks to leave U.S. taxpayers on the hook for some $500 million to $600 million, rather than the $100 million to $200 million initially forecast. That’s $500 – $600 million of cold, hard cash – our cash! – literally being given away. And, it’s cash that we don’t have. With the US economy in the dumps, and facing a large and growing budget gap, a deficit that has forced deep cuts in services and some of the most ludicrous taxes that have come down the pipeline in years. The contrast is appalling: As regular folks struggle to run small businesses, maintain jobs, or keep our homes in the mother of all recessions, the federal government finds it necessary to drain even more of our already-pillaged income while giving money to an organization which, unlike our residents, has absolutely no allegiance to the USA.
The projected costs could lead to pressure on the U.S government to oppose this project until a detailed financial analysis of the project is provided, including a definitive estimate of the cost for the U.S. taxpayer.
F) Read what the U.S. Government Accountability Office said about the proposed UN building.
IV. SECURITY CONCERNS AND PUBLIC SAFETY RISKS OF THE PROPOSED BUILDING:
There has been a great deal of discussion and analysis surrounding the financial, legal, political and procedural aspects of seizing Robert Moses Playground, however, there are serious SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY concerns that are NOT being adequately addressed. The losses and lessons of the World Trade Center attacks of 1993 and September 11, 2001 should never be forgotten, and U.S. and UN officials, need to plan very differently in the post 9/11 world.
Terrorists have increasingly targeted U.N. compounds. On August 26, 2011, the Nigerian Islamic militant group “Boko Haram” says it bombed U.N. offices in Abuja, Nigeria, killing dozens and wounding scores of UN employees who worked for 26 U.N. humanitarian aid and development agencies. The car bomber managed to drive past 2 U.N. security checkpoints and drive his explosive packed HONDA ACCORD into the U.N. building. A spokesman for Boko Haram stated, “All over the world, the U.N. is a global partner in the oppression of believers. We are at war against infidels”.
Top envoy Sergio Vieira del Mello was among 22 people killed in a 2003 attack on the organization’s Baghdad complex.
Did you know that in 1993, the same year as the first World Trade Center bombing, there was a serious attempt to bomb and bring down the United Nations building? The most startling plan, the government charged, was to set off five bombs in 10 minutes, blowing up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and a federal building housing the FBI. CLICK this link to read Chapter 14 beginning on page 182 – Attempted Bombing of the United Nations.
One need not go years back to see the clear and present dangers that the UN faces worldwide. The Al-Shabab militant group has already attacked most of the major actors trying to end the chaos in Somalia — including the United Nations. El-Shabab will take any and every opportunity they can to kill and destroy Western interests including the UN.
V. DESIGN SHORTCOMINGS OF THE PROPOSED BUILDING:
There cannot possibly be a sufficient setback and security perimeter around the proposed U.N. building on Robert Moses Playground. If a building is erected on the present site of Robert Moses Playground, it will be a prime target for terrorists and there will be little choice but for NYPD to protect it by surrounding all 4 sides of it 24/7 with NYPD officers, thereby costing NYC and its taxpayers untold sums of money. Even with officers outside, it will still not be safe should one or more car or truck bombers detonate their munitions in the Midtown tunnel directly below Robert Moses Playground, or in the 41st Street underpass directly beside, the entrance or exit ramps of the FDR, or on First Avenue adjacent to the Robert Moses Playground site. What about the risk of an explosion aboard the #7 train? In the event of a terrorist attack on the UN, having the proposed UN building built directly atop the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, a critical, widely accessible, and vulnerable transit infrastructure and known terrorism target would jeopardize the lives of countless UN employees working inside, NYPD (NY’s Finest), FDNY (NY’s Bravest) and Emergency Services rescuers, East Midtown residents, MTA Transit Workers and passengers of the MTA and Port Authority. Being alongside the East River, a collapse of the building could potentially cause the East River retaining walls to breach and the East River to come rushing into the Midtown Tunnel and IRT subway system thereby trapping motorists, flooding Grand Central Station and the transit system, and others throughout midtown. If this sounds unrealistic, just read what actually happened and what nearly happened at the World Trade Center site 12 years ago (the new site is still leaking).
The United States Mission to the United Nations itself has strengthened its new 26-floor mission in the shadow of U.N. headquarters with reinforced concrete and steel walls due to security concerns.
View the NYC Official map of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel passing directly below Robert Moses Playground.
New York City police objected to the initially proposed proximity of the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero to the busy roadway at the western edge (since security experts regard it as an obvious terrorist target). HOW CLOSE WILL THE PROPOSED UN BUILDING BE TO THE ROADWAY ON ALL 4 SIDES OF THE BUILDING? Is there a comprehensive Security Perimeter for the proposed UN building to protect against vehicle-borne explosive devices?
According to Wikileaks, the UN is well aware that they would have big security problem in building next to the FDR Drive and 42nd St. on and off ramps.
Read what senior UN representatives themselves say in Sept. 2015 about serious security threats and challenges at the UN HQ. One of the main recent upgrades to the complex was to make it terror-proof – or at least blast proof, according to United States standards. The building’s foundation has been buttressed with additional columns of steel and concrete. There is a new row of stainless steel cylinders, about hip-high, along First Avenue, making it difficult to drive a truck straight through the metal gates of the United Nations compound.
The UN proposes to build an underground tunnel between the UN campus and the new building. The tunnel would need to pass below the on-ramps and off-ramps on the FDR at 42nd Street, Where are the designs and engineering studies for this tunnel and what would the cost be for such a tunnel? Will the safety and maintenance for that tunnel be considered to be under the jurisdiction of the UN or NYC, since it passes beneath public highways?
How can FDNY fight fires, and respond to life-threatening emergencies on the upper floors of such a tall building? What is the Evacuation Plan for the building in the event of a disaster? Has the FDNY examined and signed off on all the architectural drawings of the proposed buildings?
The building is less than 20 feet from the surrounding roadways. This distance gives rise to serious public safety concerns, as 20 feet is not enough to accommodate fire equipment such as a ladder truck in the event of a fire. According to the FDNY manual, firefighters need at least 35 feet from the ladder truck side facing a building in order to rescue people up to 10 stories, using a 100 foot aerial ladder, and at least 75 feet to rescue people from floors higher than 10 stories, using a longer aerial apparatus, The space must also accommodate the width of the truck, about 8 feet, and outriggers, another 5 to 8 feet. Therefore, in order to allow the fire department to rescue people in the event of an emergency, there must be at least 51 to 86 feet between the accessible roadway and the proposed new building. There is an underpass tunnel at 41st Street and to the west of the proposed building, which would prevent the truck from having the needed access on the West side of the building. There is FDR off and on ramp traffic immediately to the North of the building. There is an M42 Bus Stop Staging Area immediately to the South of the building. If you are situated on the Eastern face of the building and there is a fire, you are out of luck since the midtown tunnel exhaust building is there any there is no access.
Look at the this detailed and comprehensive review report for the World Trade Center and compare it to the very “Lite” report draft presented years ago for the proposed UN building.
The proposed UN Consolidation Building would not be located within the current UN complex, so who will end up guarding it? NYPD on the taxpayers dime? Read below about the many problems and intra-agency squabbles surrounding trying to guard the new World Trade Center.
If so, where are the required New York City Police Department Counterterrorism Bureau Security Review Sign-offs for the proposed building on Robert Moses Playground, alongside the FDR Drive and the atop Midtown Tunnel??? All this while counterterrorism funding has been slashed?
According to the website of Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh “Sponsors say the new building… is intended to house and improve security for staff …” Please explain just how can building a building placed directly on top of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and #7 subway train tunnel, and next to the East River retaining wall improve security for UN staff? Robert Moses was wise enough to make this space a Playground as he fully understood the limitations and risks of building anything on this space.
Who will guarantee the safety of UN employees? Do United Nations employees wish to work in a terrorist target building? Of course not!!! What does UN Staff Union President Barbara Tavora-Jainchill have to say to her Staff Union members about all this? Call 212-963-7075 or email email@example.com and tell them “WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER 9/11”!
VI. RISKS DUE TO NATURAL DISASTERS
New York City recently experienced an earthquake – can we please see the geological and seismic maps, studies and survey for the site, and Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed building? Has anyone studied the noise and composition of emissions being discharged out of the Midtown Tunnel ventilation shaft and how they will impact the finish of the building materials? With the new building very close to the ventilation shaft and high winds in the area, where will the winds be redirecting those emissions?
The UNDC has spent taxpayer’s money for more than 10 years to lobby elected officials to seize and build a tower on the Robert Moses Playground. Here is a link to an official NYC website documenting the many lobbyists in the employ of UNDC (just type in United Nations Development Corporation) Just whose interests do you think they are putting forward?
The United Nations Building suffered unprecedented damage from Hurricane Sandy. The proposed new building is located next to the existing UN building. What flood protection measures have been incorporated into the design? The “draft” Environmental Impact Statement does not adequately take into consideration the many lessons that NYC and UN management learned and should have learned during Sandy. The EIS must be restudied, revised and resubmitted (with input from and approval by the US Army Corp of Engineers), and the proposed building would need to be completely redesigned.
Following are just a few of many press releases issued by the UN itself describing the damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy:
“Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, and its effects, in New York City, where the United Nations is headquartered, led to the world body’s offices being closed for an unprecedented three days straight, with most meetings cancelled, before re-opening on Thursday, 1 November.
The UN complex sustained damage due to high wind and flooding, which affected communications and other infrastructure.
Discussing the impact of the storm on the United Nations, the Secretary-General noted that despite its severity, material damages in the UN Headquarters complex were relatively contained and there were no reports of injuries to staff members and their dependents. However, several staff members suffered damage to property and experienced other difficulties.
The most serious damage experienced at the UN Headquarters complex occurred when flooding in a basement caused the shutdown of a cooling system, which, in turn, caused the shutdown of some elements of its information and communications technology infrastructure. While back-up systems helped provide continuity and no data was lost, some communications systems were severely affected, including both data and telephones.”
NYU Langone Medical Center is located less than 1/2 mile south on First Avenue and in the same position on First Avenue relative to the East River as Robert Moses Playground. It sustained more than $1 Billion in damage due to Hurricane Sandy and received FEMA aid to restore damaged buildings and to protect the medical center from future flooding, through the installation of interior flood doors and barriers, reinforced walls, seals and pumps. Does the proposed UN building have features in its design capable of dealing with a 16-foot crest of the East River as NYU has already experienced?
Here is a film clip of The UNDC DEIS Scoping Presentation made at CB6 on Sept. 12, 2013. The UNDC on 8/29/13 has presented a Draft Scope of Work for the Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement – United Nations Consolidation Project. This draft fails to address many important factors, particularly SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY.
On Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 6 p.m. there was a hearing on the scoping for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the consolidation building (the western portion of the Robert Moses Playground) for the United Nations Development Corporation in the Smilow Auditorium of the NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue. Many local midtown residents and community leaders spoke out in opposition to the proposed building due to safety and security concerns. Following is a link to a video of that hearing: http://livestream.com/accounts/3241995/events/2014383
Many comments and questions concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) were sent to the UNDC c/o EISCoordinator@undc.org by several concerned citizens prior to the Friday, October 4, 2013 deadline. It has been more than two years since comments were sent and to date, no acknowledgement or reply to those questions has been received…
VIII. UNITED NATIONS SPACE NEEDS
Here is a link to the 2014 UN document on the long-term accommodation needs of the UN Headquarters, which is currently under consideration by the General Assembly. Here is yet another study published in 2015. Please note that no mention of security concerns appear anywhere within the study.
Despite the existence of the above study (which was completed years ago), the United Nations HQ has continued to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning System which will vastly reduce the need for more fixed office space in the organization as employees can now perform their jobs virtually from anywhere in the world, thereby creating efficiencies and eliminating the need for another UN building.
With Secretary Moon approaching the end of his term, UNDC is attempting to pressure him to push through the approval to build on Robert Moses Playground. Who in the world will pay for this dangerous, wasteful and unnecessary building?
There are several readily available alternative solutions to building on Robert Moses Playground:
There are several safe, practical and viable options worthy of further exploration by the UN hierarchy:
Alternative #1) SALE OF #1 and #2 UN PLAZA TO THE UN: If NYC and the UN agree to negotiate in good faith, #1 and #2 UN Plaza can be sold by NYC to the United Nations at a prevailing market price to be determined by a panel of impartial real estate experts. UN personnel can stay right where they are, and avoid the great expense and lost productivity of moving. There are many crises in the world today which the UN is attempting to deal with. Any disruption of the UN headquarters staff work for years could cost many innocent lives around the world. Most people realize that whatever the outcome is here, in the end, the buildings will most likely just be refinanced and NOT SOLD, and UN employees will stay put right where they are in #1 and #2 UN Plaza. This will leave big shortfall for the proposed building. Where will the money come from???
Robert Moses Playground would not have to be seized. New York City gets its money even more quickly, and the esplanade can be built even more quickly! No building would need to be built on an indefensible and unsafe location above the Midtown Tunnel and #7 train. An elevated footbridge can be built over First Avenue linking the UN compound with #1 and #2 UN Plaza, or a tunnel (or tunnels) can be created under First Avenue connecting the UN compound to #1 and #2 UN Plaza.
Alternative # 2) NORTH LAWN: The existing UN compound has more than enough space to develop one large suitable and secure building, or a group of smaller buildings on its lawn North of the UN Secretariat Building. Constructing a building on United Nations property does afford a number of advantages, including control over the timing and delivery of the new space on the North Lawn, control over the entire process and the opportunity to create a building tailored to the specific needs of the United Nations. A new North Lawn building would complete the campus as originally envisioned, unify the United Nations community and contribute to expressing the mission of the United Nations. A temporary building was erected at a cost of more than $20 million to house the Secretary General and thousands of staff members during the renovation of Headquarters and is being torn down in 2016. If a new permanent building were to be located within the spacious UN compound, it will be protected by the UN security personnel. All staff and visitors to the UN can remain within one complex. Though it is in New York City, the land presently occupied by the United Nations headquarters is “international territory” and should be protected solely by UN personnel, and not NYPD.
Within the parameters considered, the findings of the study point to advantages for the United Nations in constructing on the North Lawn. A North Lawn office building emerged as possibly the best new building option. It would best satisfy the vision principles, present the lowest cost, lowest risk and would accommodate the most United Nations staff in a newly constructed and owned United Nations building. Given recent developments regarding UNDC-5, this conclusion would be subject to re-evaluation once fully comparable cost estimates and other parameters, such as the actual floor area and timing of availability of UNDC-5, are known.
The United Nations and USA as its largest contributor are both short of available financial resources. A new US President will be elected shortly, and Secretary Ban Ki Moon will finish his second term in 2016, and therefore he should be respectful of his successor and defer taking any decision on the proposed building.
Alternative # 3) DEVELOPER SHELDON SOLOW: Sheldon Solow (owner of the adjacent former ConEd sites) has previously expressed an interest in offering to lease or sell a portion of his large vacant site to the UN for a building. A private developer such as Solow (or a successor developer) could build a commercial office building to suit the UN’s office needs and lease it to the organization. The cost to the UN to build this would be ZERO. Mr. Solow has closed the parking lot on the west side of 1st Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, and construction is underway. The UN can rent portions of this new building. Now that the approval to build has been extended, renewed efforts should be made to reach out to Mr. Solow and his organization.
A meeting of the Community Board 6, Land Use/Waterfront Committee public meeting was held on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 – 7:00 pm in the Auditorium of Art & Design H.S., 245 E. 56th St., NY, NY 10022. A presentation was made by Gary Tarnoff, Esq. of Kramer Levin, and discussions took place regarding DCA application #N140108CMM, N140109CMM & N140110CMM – and a request by Solow Realty Company LLC for a 3 year renewal of previously approved Special Permits for 685, 700, 708 First Avenue, which are located between East 38th and 41st Streets. A Resolution to support the 3 year extension was made and the CB6 Board voted 10 in favor, 2 opposed and 1 abstain to approve the Resolution.
The issue of the proposed building has been reported on by www.InnerCityPress.com, an independent publication which provides opinions on issues related to the UN and UN community. Click below to read their latest report, and comments by UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky which confirm that there has been NO DECISION ON A PROPOSED NEW BUILDING BY THE UN, and that the UNDC (a self-perpetuating entity) speaks strictly for itself, and does not speak for the United Nations.
Former Mayor Bloomberg backed by his sister, Commissioner Marjorie Tiven, and the United Nations Development Corporation were the ones pressuring the UN to choose this flawed and ill conceived plan. THE UNITED NATIONS ITSELF HAS NOT DECLARED THAT THEY WANT OR NEED THIS BUILDING.
Mayor Bloomberg and his sister are gone from office and Mayor DeBlasio is pursuing his own priorities and agenda. It is clear that the United Nations Development Corporation (UNDC), not the UN itself, is the party which is pushing the UN to declare that they want a multi-BILLION dollar building built and paid for by mainly US taxpayer money above the Midtown Tunnel and NYC subway system. Various real estate interests would stand to benefit handsomely by building, managing and maintaining this unsafe and unsuitably designed building. But the UN does not appear to be saying that, and the UN top executives should not have their arms twisted by UNDC when clearly other more appropriate, less expensive and more secure alternatives exist.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! OUR LEADERS FREQUENTLY REMIND US: “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.” WELL, WE SEE SOMETHING AND NOW WE ARE SAYING SOMETHING!!! NOW IS THE TIME TO LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!!! Your elected leaders should know what your thoughts, needs and questions are, and that we will remember and hold them accountable for the positions which they have taken on this issue. Their contact details can be found under the CONTACT tab of this website.
Speak Up! Don’t allow UNDC to steal a park from the residents of Midtown East for a real estate sham and place thousands of lives in imminent danger!!