At issue: NYU's desire to take over more than 2 acres of city-owned land currently used as public parks, gardens and a dog run.
Local activists argue these seven strips of land should remain open, green spaces.
They're urging NYU to be a good neighbor and work with the community to find alternative sites for its development.
"We believe very strongly that NYU must learn finally how to coexist not overwhelm this community. And that's what we have to recognize," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said.
In a statement, NYU says as it refines its plans the University will quote "remain committed to seeking a path forward that balances the needs of the community, NYU and the city."