UPDATED, 6:50 p.m., May 21: Area residents have sued Lincoln Center and the city in an effort to halt the transfer of Damrosch Park, a nearby green space, to the venerable performing arts venue for commercial use, according to a release from the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates. The suit, in part, aims to Restore The Municipally Owned Park On West 62nd Street for public use.
The 2.4-acre plot, between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, became off limits to the general public in 2010, the release said. Since then, New York Fashion Week has erected tents on the grounds during its September and February shows, and the Big Apple Circus has taken up four-month residencies from October to January, the group said.
Lincoln Center also allegedly rents out the park for private events, such as fundraisers, according to the statement.
“Lincoln Center maintains a close relationship with the city, presenting hundreds of free events each year,” according to a statement from a city law department spokesperson, who responded on behalf of Lincoln Center and the parks department and said that the city awaits formal service of the suit. Even resident artistic organizations, such as the Juilliard School, put on hundreds more free shows each year. Fashion Week generates $865 million annually and creates jobs, according to the spokesperson, and the Big Apple Circus puts on shows for all ages.
“All of these private, commercial uses of Damrosch Park for non-park purposes constitute an unauthorized alienation of public parkland in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and may not lawfully continue in the absence of state legislative approval,” the group said in the release. —Zachary Kussin