To The Children's Children's Children's...From G-Pa Cliff
ZERO PLUS 1139 DAYS--New
York, NY, Monday, October 25, 2004--
up for the Children's Children's Children is the primary
mission of a Parent or Grandparent of Vigilance. Often,
standing up for future generations takes many different
froms, and one of those we face in New York City is the
proposed renovation of the famed Union Square Park, a
national historic landmark designed for the public to
gather and express a wide range of opinions. Included
in the park are playgrounds for children, plus a pavillion.
A private business group, the Union Square Partnership,
has proposed an $11 million rennovation to the north end
of the park. A $5 million anonymous matching fund donation
fueled the renovation, but with one small catch: To enjoy
the $5 million in funds, a restaurant would be built in
the park essentially privitizing public land. Plans and
approvals of those plans sailed through the local Community
Board until a few residents and concerned citizens began
to question the right of the Community Board to approve
a plan that would virtually remove public land and vest
it into the private sector. More importantly, the children
and their parents and grandparents were not represented
in the discussions. At the core of the renovations are
the playgrounds. The plan calls for an alleged "expansion"
of playground space and tunnels so children can move freely
without interfering with the restaurant traffic. But the
question arises, is the placement of a restaurant in the
park a violation of the childrens' rights, both present
and future? And, why hasn't the Community Board sought
alternative plans for the renovation that do not include
privatization? The following is a letter from the children.
Its purpose is to force "adults" eager to build
a restaurant on the "children's land" to stop
and take stock of their actions. It is also a call to
action for all Citizens of Vigilance to demand from the
Community Board the answer to the question: "What's
Right For The Future Of The Children?"
An Open Letter From
The Children And Grandchildren Of Union Square Park Asking:
Why Are The Adults Stealing
Our Public Playground Land?
We’re the children and grandchildren of Union Square Playground.
We just heard someone was going to take away our Playground
Land and sell it to a restaurant. We want you—WHOEVER
YOU ARE-- to answer our questions before you sell our Playground
Maybe…just because you’re all grown up…and
we’re just kids…maybe you think you know what’s
good for us…maybe you think you know what’s better
for us than we do.
We don’t think so. Neither do our Grandmas and Grandpas.
Maybe you won’t pay much or any attention to our questions
because we’re JUST kids and you’re adults. Lots
of adults think kids should be seen but not heard. But, our
Grandparents told us we should speak up because the Union Square
Playground Land is for kids and parents and grandparents and
brothers and sisters, and cousins and nephews and nieces…and
all kinds of people. It isn’t for restaurants. There are
billions of restaurants all around Union Square.
Union Square belongs to the kids—not to hungry adults
who want to eat where we play.
Union Square, like all the parks in the city, is for the kids
and families and friends to have fun in and enjoy. And, Union
Square is especially for our kids’ kids’ kids. It’s
for present and future generations who want to use the Union
Square Playground now and later.
Our Grandmas and Grandpas said that we—the kids of Union
Square Playground—owe it to our kids and their kids to
ask questions about why a bunch of adults are deciding what’s
right for our future without asking us. Grams and Gramps warned
us that adults like to make quick decisions that make them feel
good and important, and then, leave the mess for kids to deal
Like, selling our Playground Land to a restaurant might seem
cool for an adult today, but later, when all the park space
is gone…and there’s no room to make it bigger and
better…those adults will be gone. And we’ll be here,
with our kids and grandkids.
Our Grandmas and Grandpas told us that adults won’t want
to answer our questions because they think they know what’s
better for us than we do. And, if they do answer them, they’ll
use all kinds of big words and confuse us. Maybe they won’t
tell us all the truth about what’s going on.
We hope that doesn’t happen…trying to trick kids
isn’t nice…and doing things that may be bad for
kids isn’t nice either.
So, here are some of our kid questions. We might have more.
Grandpa and Grandma said we should tell you what we’re
worried about and then ask a question.
OUR WORRY WART CONCERNS & QUESTIONS:
Worry Wart Question #1:
“HOW COME YOU’RE SELLING THE KIDS’
Gramps and Gram said you had all these neat pictures and drawings
of how our Playground Land would look after you built a restaurant
on our Land. They said everyone clapped because someone pretended
it was good for us kids—that it would be bigger and better
than it is now.
Oooops! We—THE KIDS-- don’t think so.
See, we kids like Union Square belonging to us kids. When the
grown ups put in their restaurant, our Playground Land is frozen.
When we grow up and have kids, there won’t be any more
room for our kids, or their kids, because the restaurant takes
up Playground Land.
People did that to the Indians, you know. They came onto Indian
Land and set up a store, and then added another store until
there wasn’t any land for the Indians.
A restaurant STEALS the land from the children. Once the cement
goes in and the buildings go up, we kids can’t grow. There’s
no more room.
The people who put the plan together made these tunnels so we
kids could go back and forth under the restaurant.
This restaurant is going to take over a bunch of land that belongs
to the kids of today and in the future—and nobody is showing
how many more kids will be here in the future. And more people
too! More grandparents. More parents. More uncles and aunts.
We want to know what gives the adults the right to sell our
Land—the Park Land—belongs to the kids, to the people?
Or, is it only for adults?
Tell us. Why are the adults letting someone steal our land by
pretending a restaurant is good for the park? We want room to
play and be—not room to eat and spend money so someone
can make a profit off our land.
Maybe we need the Indians to come and talk about how their land
was stolen by traders who wanted to open a restaurant.
QUESTION # 2:
“WHO’S THE SECRET PERSON BUYING
OUR PLAYGROUND LAND?”
Our Gramps and Grams went to a meeting last week where business
people were boasting about how great it will be to have a restaurant
in Union Square. When people wanted to know who the “secret
person” was who put up the five million dollars to help
redo Union Square North, nobody gave the name of the person.
As kids, we learned to not have secrets. If someone tries to
give us candy, we don’t take it. Our parents and grandparents
taught us to be honest, truthful. We wonder why the adults who
are proposing this restaurant don’t want to stand up and
let us thank them for being so generous with their money and
ask them why they need to have a restaurant if they are interested
in helping us have a better park. Our parents and grandparents
told us to be wary of people who hide behind masks.
So, we want to see the person or group that’s putting
up the five million dollars to help us kids. Is that too much
to ask? If we are going to get a big gift from a stranger, shouldn’t
we know that stranger? If we don’t know the stranger and
trust the stranger, then we shouldn’t take the money,
HOW COME THERE’S NO OTHER PLAN?
We like Union Square Park. There’s a statue of Honest
His statue stands right in front of the playground. He tells
us to stand up for what is right.
What is right is that the adults show us kids another plan—one
without a restaurant. One that doesn’t sell our land.
Maybe it won’t be as fancy as the one with the restaurant,
but maybe it’s better for us to keep our land than to
sell it out to a business—like what happened to the Indians.
Union Square is a place for people to get together…to
give speeches…to rally…to protest…to cheer…to
play…to walk…to sit…
We know the adults are all excited about MONEY. They think its
cool someone wants to give them FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to help
make Union Square look better, but we also know that maybe those
adults are selling out us kids.
We figured that at least 1,000 of us kids and family members
use the playground each day….that’s 365,000 kids
a year….at least…maybe a lot more…That means
our Playground Land is being sold out for $13.00 a kid.
For $13 a bunch of adults want to freeze the Playground Land,
burying its future in privatization concrete and let other people
make money off our land—land that was dedicated for our
kids, and their kids, and all who come to visit Union Square’s
So why isn’t there some other plan?
How come the adults didn’t offer up two plans? One with
a restaurant and one without one? Then people could vote. People
Nobody can vote now because there is only one choice. The restaurant
or the restaurant.
That’s not fair. That’s not right.
But the adults say it is fair and right, and puff out their
chests and boast about how wonderful everything will be for
They say there will be nice bathrooms and more play space for
We kids already own the play space. You can’t expand what
we have. The idea is the restaurant is going to give us back
what we already own.
Another plan that doesn’t include a restaurant should
be given to us. This plan is about our land being made better,
not about someone giving us more of our own land already and
trying to get us to think that’s something special.
What’s special is looking at the statue of Abe Lincoln.
What’s special is thinking about being fair and honest
to the children of Union Square Park, and to their children,
and their children.
Offering up a plan to put a restaurant in that steals the land
from the children and pretends to give the children something
they already own isn’t right.
But we are just little kids.
We can’t fight like the adults.
We can’t make up reasons why stealing land from the children
of Union Square Park is a bad idea when the adults have made
up all kinds of reasons why it is a good idea to freeze our
Playground Land in privatized concrete and call it “something
good for the community.”
We can only hope that enough mothers, fathers, grandparents,
uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces, and friends and
loved ones demand that the people trying to shove through a
plan to steal the Playground Land from the children of Union
Square stop and think like grandparents and parents.
If they do, they will ask the final question:
“Will building a restaurant in Union Square benefit
the future generations of children and families, or will it
hamper and hinder the future expansion of the park’s ability
to serve the community needs?”
Is building a restaurant right for the Children?
We don’t think so.
For More Information Contact Cliff McKenzie, editor,
Geoffrey Croft, president of New
York City Park Advocates, 212-987-0565
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