Volume 76, Number 27 | November 29 - December 5, 2006

Editorial

Whitney on track

The Dia Art Foundation’s recently dropping its plan for a museum on the High Line at Gansevoort St. was disappointing, for the project was an excellent use for the site — currently occupied by two abandoned meatpacking buildings. But the Whitney Museum’s now essentially replacing Dia in the project renews hope that a truly exciting arts and cultural facility will enrich and enliven this area of the Meat Market and the High Line.

Like the Dia project, this Whitney Museum would still have meat business uses within the site’s footprint, which will help this once thriving, but now tenuous economy maintain a toehold in the Market. A concern, however, is that the Whitney gallery space reportedly will be five to seven times larger than what Dia was planning. We need to know more about how this building will fit within the low-scale Market — as the low, slab-style Dia facility would have done so well.

Over all, though, we think the Whitney’s return Downtown, where it began in 1918, is a terrific idea and will help shift, in a major way, the arts scene from the Upper East Side and 57th St. to this area of town, connecting as it will with the burgeoning Chelsea gallery scene. The Whitney’s presence might also very well help transform the Market from being a monolithic nightlife zone to a place with a more diverse and interesting mix of businesses and attractions.
 
 
Unity at Board 2

It was encouraging when Community Board 2 recently voted — unanimously — to back a resolution asking the Parks Department to re-present to the board next month the Washington Square Park renovation plan. This is a far cry from the backroom maneuvering and divisiveness seen on the board a year ago on this issue.

C.B. 2 has not had another vote on whether it still supports Parks’ $16 million plan. But thanks to an infusion of new community-minded members, it’s possible the board may no longer support some of the more contentious elements of Parks’ plan. It’s now been shown Parks was not upfront in its presentations of such key details as the renovated plaza’s size and the fountain’s battery of new water plumes, all of which, we expect, would make the board concur with Judge Emily Jane Goodman’s July ruling — that Parks should re-present the plan to C.B. 2, accurately and faithfully this time.

At least, however, the board is unified in its position that Parks did not do right by them the last time. We applaud their vote. The board has confirmed and asserted its own role in the process — which is to provide an honest and thorough public review of the real plans from this city agency. However difficult it may be for the board to proceed on this contentious project — at least now there are no divisions on the subject of having the truth presented.


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