Residents of the neighborhood surrounding Lincoln Center say that since Fashion Week moved to the plaza in 2010, Damrosch Park is off limits nearly ten months out of the year, thanks to the bi-annual industry event, as well as other cultural and private events alike, reports the New York Times. It’s true many of these events–like the Big Apple Circus–have been staged at Lincoln Center for years, but, according to one resident of a nearby building, Susan Levy, “[Fashion week] was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Besides the fact that residents are unable to use the park for a good portion of the year, the increase in traffic and the deafening noise of the generators are a nuisance. “It’s an assault on the neighborhood,” Michael Graff, a lawyer who lives in the nearby Alfred condominium tower, told the paper.
In short, the residents have had enough. And they’ve decided to do something about it. A group of them, along with NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit organization, sent a cease and desist letter to Lincoln Center, demanding that “Damrosch Park be returned to its proper use as a city park.” And that means potentially no fashion week.
The Park Advocates argued that the constant use of Lincoln Center amounted to the removal of parkland–something that the State Legislature can address. They also said that the city’s deal with Lincoln Center, which allows the center to keep all of the money generated by subleasing to outside groups (like Mercedes Benz fashion week), as well as the funds generated by the underground parking lot, is “illegal.” And it doesn’t exactly help that the city removed 67 trees from the park, to make way for fashion week.
The city, however, is firm that these criticisms are baseless. The arguments?
-The paved plaza doesn’t get much traffic in the winter anyway.
-Some of the trees that were removed were diseased, and more trees were planted in and near Lincoln Center.
-Fashion Week generates a sizable income for the city.
The group filing the cease and desist hinted that they may next take take further legal action in the form of litigation. Is all of this sort of a moot point? While nothing is official yet, Bloomberg is hoping to move fashion week to the new development in the Hudson Yards, possibly as soon as 2015.