With suit, Petrosino Square protest shifts into high gear

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.

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!”

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7 Responses to With suit, Petrosino Square protest shifts into high gear

  1. So why is Sadik-Khan being so stubborn? Rather than move it into the street, she is wasting taxpayers' money to fight keeping art out of a public park?

    What is wrong with this person?

  2. History has shown that the mayor will bulldoze over anything or anyone that stands in the way of his vision. His napoleonic aspirations to have a visual legacy is affecting his common sense. Allowing public park land for a corporate image makeover and rebranding opportunity should be a criminal offense!Citi bank has paid 2.3 billion dollars in fines for various fraudulent activities over the last 3 years, is this who we want in our face all over downtown?Please email Sadik -khan @ D.O.T , tell her to move the bike station out of Petrosino Park.Also where is the larger parks support in our effort , I'm sure Central park and Wash.sq and Union sq. not allow a bike parking lot to take over HALF their parkland!Keep parks free of Advertising and Corporate profitting.

  3. The people behind the scheme to remove art from Petrosino Square are the leaders of Transportation Alternatives.

    TA had PAID petitioners at the park for several days a couple of weeks ago, asking people to sign petitions to keep the citibank bike rentals there. I was one of the people who was asked, and refused. Their failure to collect significant signatures is the reason they stopped after a few days. Even cyclists want art there.

    I used to be a TA member, but I quit. They have been taken over in recent years by a claque of extremists, some of whom have been hired by DOT and who now call the shots there: people like Wiley-Schwartz and Jon Orcutt.

  4. "in the dead of night"? Sounds sinister, but weren't about half the stations installed during the overnight hours?
    Three sources quoted from one viewpoint and none from the opposite side?
    Not very objective reporting in this article.

  5. There is an easy win-win here, so why the resistance by DOT and Sadik-Khan to move the Citibikes 50 FEET into the streetbed?

  6. This is payback for the defeat of the Prince Street Pedestrian Mall Initiative.

    • You got that right!

      And for the defeat of the pop-up cafes in SoHo, the defeat of their similar plans to put a Citibike in the memorial Fr. Fagan Park on Prince/Sixth Ave, for the defeat of the bike corrals recently on Lafayette, and the defeat of the so-called GreenWave for Prince Street. DOT is batting 0 for 5 in SoHo.

      This is Sadik-Khan's and TransAlt's revenge for all these defeats.

      This plan for Petrosino will likewise be defeated in the courts. In America, expressive art trumps transportation alternatives.

      Sadik-Khan and TA will soon be wiping more egg off their face.

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