Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 15, 2015

NY Appellate Court Holds that City’s Acts and Declarations Did Not Manifest Intent to Dedicate Parcels as Public Parkland

The trial court held that the City respondents had alienated public parkland without approval by the New York State Legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine, and enjoined respondent New York University (NYU) from beginning any construction, in connection with the expansion project at issue, that will result in any alienation of the three parcels found by the court to be public parkland. Since there was no formal dedication of land for public use, the court determined that an implied dedication may exist when the municipality’s acts and declarations manifest a present, fixed, and unequivocal intent to dedicate. Thus, the party asserting that the land has been dedicated for public use bears the burden in showing a parcel has become a park by implication, by providing evidence of the owner’s acts and declarations and the circumstances surrounding the use of the land.

The appellate court held that petitioners failed to meet their burden because, while the City has allowed for the long-term continuous use of parts of the parcels for park-like purposes, such use was not exclusive, and some of the parcels have also been used as pedestrian thoroughfares. Moreover, any management of the parcels by the Department of Parks and Recreation was understood to be temporary and provisional, pursuant to revocable permits or licenses. Accordingly, the court found that the trial court correctly found that the project-approval process complied with ULURP and SEQRA. Furthermore, the court held that is was not necessary for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to consider the environmental impacts of locating the project in a different neighborhood, as the purpose of the project is for NYU to expand its facilities in the Washington Square Area.

Glick v. Harvey, 121 A.D.3d 498, 500, 994 N.Y.S.2d 118, 120 (NYAD 1 Dept. 2014) leave to appeal granted, No. 2014-1171, 2015 WL 753795 (N.Y. 2/24/2015)

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