Photo by Tequila Minsky
At Wednesday’s announcement of the lawsuit against the Petrosino bike-share station, a resident held up a composite image showing where protesters think the Citi Bike docks should be relocated — into the street, at the northeast corner of Lafayette and Spring Sts.
Wednesday morning, the law firm Gibson Dunn joined pro bono clients Friends of Petrosino Square, the Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino Lodge of the Sons of Italy in America, the Soho Alliance, the Chinatown Civic Association, the Noho Neighborhood Association and others to announce the filing of a lawsuit in State Supreme Court against Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the Parks Department and the City of New York.
The suit calls “arbitrary and capricious” the siting of the Petrosino Square Citi Bike station because it “usurps public parkland” dedicated to large sculpture and other three-dimensional installations.
The petitioners called for the station to be relocated into the roadbed across Spring St., holding signs with a photo composite demonstrating “an appropriate alternative location” about 50 feet away from the bike station’s current site near the northern tip of Petrosino Square.
Friends of Petrosino Square founder Georgette Fleischer called on Sadik-Khan to give the community back its parkland and art space, which she called not just a public benefit, but a necessity.
“Our community and all communities need room for imagination,” said Fleischer, who detailed a 30-year history of three dozen art installations in the formerly dilapidated Soho park that was initially reclaimed by Abstract Expressionists in the 1980s.
The square underwent a major renovation and expansion from 2008 to 2011. After the renovation, the park triangle’s northern tip was utilized for large temporary public sculpture, until D.O.T. on April 27 in the dead of night installed the line of bike docks. Since then Friends of Petrosino Square has been joined by other groups in protesting the taking of their pubic parkland, with artful rallies and free on-site life-drawing classes.
Attorney Jim Walden of Gibson Dunn said, “The community board said No to this, the community said No to this, and the community’s elected representatives said No to this. For a month, everyone asked politely to have it removed. The time for asking nicely is now at an end.”
Brandishing a legal submission thickened by more than 600 petition signatures and 132 letters, Walden pledged that his firm would fight hard for the rights of the Petrosino protesters.
Famed sculptor Claes Oldenburg, who is renowned for his public artworks, also wrote a letter to Sadik-Khan, pleading with the D.O.T. big wheel, “Leave us our little piece of park, please, our place to dream and think!”