New York State has written guidelines on the alienation law that can help as you write your affidavit for our lawsuit. Here are some useful excerpts.
Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland
New York State’s General City Law…explicitly provides that city-owned parkland is “inalienable” and requires legislative approval to alienate…
The use of parkland by a municipality for a non-park purpose is considered an alienation, even if the use has public benefit or purpose. Examples of non-park uses deemed an alienation include [among others listed in the handbook, but these are particularly relevant to East River Park]:
• Public works facilities and storage space
• Parking for municipal vehicles
Legislative approval is required even for non-permanent disruptions of parkland where the municipality intends to restore the parkland. While courts allow for the possibility of de minimus exceptions to the public trust doctrine, inconsistent uses as short as two years have been found to be alienations.
• In Friends of Van Cortlandt Park v. City of New York45 the City of New York’s plans for constructing an underground water treatment plant beneath Van Cortlandt Park were found to be an alienation because of the disruption of five and a half years of construction called for in a portion of the park.
Here are some of the things [ones relevant to our situation] municipalities should consider when seeking alienation
Are there any structures 50 years old or older on the property? [The restroom buildings]
Does the property contain wetlands, streams, significant habitats, or other similar features?
How will any remaining parkland be affected by the alienation?
What impacts, including aesthetic, historic, environmental, social, cultural and recreational impacts, will the alienation of this parkland have on the surrounding neighborhood?
The State Environmental Quality Review (“SEQR”) Act66 requires municipalities and State agencies to consider, in advance, the potential significant adverse environmental impacts of their actions; to weigh alternatives to their actions; and minimize or mitigate any environmental damage potentially caused by those actions.
A temporary non- conforming use is limited to a period of six months (180 days) or less. Continued use beyond six-months will not be considered temporary, and may result in a Section 6(f)(3) conversion of use requiring the replacement of converted parkland. For NPS review, describe the temporary non-conforming use (activities other than public outdoor recreation) in detail including the following information:5. Describe any anticipated temporary/permanent impacts to the Section 6(f) area and how the sponsor will mitigate them during and after the non-conforming use ceases.
And here’s a link to the handbook: https://parks.ny.gov/publications/documents/AlienationHandbook2017.pdf