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Construction on American Museum of Natural History expansion remains halted

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A court decided to keep a temporary restraining order in place while the decision to dismiss the suit is appealed

Image courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

After a state Supreme Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park to halt the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History’s Studio Gang-designed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, opponents of the group have seemingly gained a small victory.

According to Crain’s, the group of opponents announced that the museum will be prohibited from moving forward with its expansion while the state Supreme Court decision is being appealed. The judge had previously vacated a temporary restraining order on the property issued in late October but the court has now agreed to keep it in place until an appellate court makes a decision on whether it will overturn the ruling or not.

The Community United’s stands firm in its belief that the expansion’s encroachment on a quarter acre of Theodore Roosevelt Park, which the museum sits within, will destroy the park and pose safety threats, as well as environmental hazards to the surrounding community. Another issue is the removal of seven of the park’s trees: While the expansion would use less than 2 percent of the park’s 17.6 acres, an attorney for the neighborhood group says that allowing the expansion would set a bad precedent.

American Museum of Natural History spokesperson, Scott Rohan, said that the interim order is “essentially confined to seven trees.” “The Museum is confident that Judge Kotler’s December 10, 2018 clear decision on the merits, which dismissed the entire case, will be affirmed on appeal,” said Rohan. “The Museum will continue to focus on the numerous aspects of the project that are already moving forward and on its commitment to bringing to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world the expanded educational and scientific resources made possible by the Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.”

The Gilder Center originally sought a 2020 opening date but now, the fate of the project rests in the hands of an appellate court.