By Robin Pogrebin, NYT
A lawsuit has been filed against New York City and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts accusing them of limiting public access to Damrosch Park by using it for commercial purposes, including the bi-annual New York Fashion Week, for as many as 10 months of the year.
The lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court by a coalition of area residents and environmental groups along with Damrosch family members. It demands that the agreement between the Parks Department and Lincoln Center be terminated, that the park be restored and no longer be used for non-park purposes and that any concession revenue from the park be paid into the city’s general fund.
Lincoln Center said it does not comment on litigation matters. Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department, said: “The city is awaiting formal service of the suit and will review it carefully. Fashion Week is an important part of the city’s cultural and economic fabric, generating $865 million each year while also creating fashion-related jobs.”
The suit argues that revenue from the city’s July 2010 license agreement with Lincoln Center is being diverted from the city’s general fund to Lincoln Center, amounting to more than $32 million. “These actions constitute an illegal alienation of Damrosch Park in violation of the New York State Public Trust Doctrine and other laws,” said NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit watchdog group, in a release.