NYU made an emergency appearance before the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 last week, urging for permission to remove six trees along Thompson Street where the University's new Center for Academic and Spiritual Life is set to rise. Despite a presentation of the building plan six months ago, NYU now claims that their construction crew only recently realized that the 30-foot-tall trees have roots that extend under the sidewalk and onto the site where the foundation will be dug. Reps told CB2 that two of the trees will be removed and transplanted to an unspecified location, but the other four are doomed?and the removal must take place prior to December 15 to allow for safe transplantation before the trees get the chills. The committee was skeptical of the plan, noting that this last minute appeal is the first time that NYU had mentioned the trees.
Another potential problem for the trees are the hot water lines from the NYU Cogeneration Plant (now being expanded on Mercer Street) that run beneath the ground and service the school's buildings. Rather than place the piping within the footprint of the new building ("Too dangerous to do that," CB2 was told) NYU plans to snake the lines beneath the public streets and sidewalks around Washington Square Park (which has some tree problems of its own) and throughout the
Committee members were told that the heat of those pipes in proximity to the roots of trees equals a certain death. It was pointed out to the NYU gang that more than these trees on Thompson were at risk and that the University's capacious plans could be a threat to the leafy lanes that make up Greenwich Village. The committee, hoping that these trees are stronger than their own influence, voted to urge NYU to leave the trees in place during construction. No matter the outcome, folks might take some solace in seeing that the plan for the new NYU building has a terra cotta exterior embellished with cutouts in the shapes of leaves. Fair trade, Mr. Gore?
· 58 Washington Square South coverage [Curbed]
· Cogeneration Project [NYU Facilities & Construction Management website]
· The root of the matter at Washington Square Park [The Villager]