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Consents & Variances

New York is Book Country, application to hold a Book Fair on Fifth Avenue between 47 Street and 57 Street on Sunday, September 14, 2008.

WHEREAS, The applicant, Kirkus Reviews, wants to organize a book fair on 5th Avenue between 47th and 57th Streets, and wants to reserve all parking space on 52nd Street and 53nd Street between Madison Avenue and Avenue of the Americas; and 

WHEREAS, After convening with Community Board Five’s Consents & Variances Committee on November 7th 2007, Kirkus Reviews agreed to reduce the size of the fair by half, requesting a street activity permit for five blocks instead of ten blocks, (Fifth Avenue between 52nd Street and 57th Street), and reserved parking on one street instead of two (53rd Street. Between Madison Avenue and Avenue of the Americas) to reduce the adverse impact of the street fair on vehicular traffic; and


WHEREAS, The book fair has been a recurring event from 1982 to 2004 and used to occupy Fifth Avenue from 40th Street to 57th Street, and in 2005 and 2006, the event was relocated to Washington Square Park. The event used to be organized by a not-for-profit organization called New York is Book Country and this organization went bankrupt. Subsequent to the bankruptcy, Kirkus Review decided to take over the event and to transform it into a for-profit event; and


WHEREAS, The event will gather small publishers, independent publishing companies, antiquarians, as well as larger publishing corporations such as Random House, Harpers, Scholastic, and authors and writers will attend the event, will give lectures and sign their books. The event will display three theme pavilions, a children’s pavilion sponsored by Target, a food pavilion (where food sampling will be offered) sponsored by Viking and the Food network, and a financial pavilion sponsored by Crain Communications. A stage will be installed on Fifth Avenue towards 52nd Street and jazz bands will play for a maximum of 3 hours. The event is entirely free and no food or beverage will be sold within the fair; and

WHEREAS, The applicant’s vendors will start parking their trucks on 53rd Street at midnight but will start setting up no sooner than 3am, and breakdown will be completed at 9pm, making an exemption to Community Board Five street activity permit regulations because of the commercial nature of the area. The book fair itself will start at 10am and will finish at 5pm; and

Impact on Traffic:

WHEREAS, none of the side streets between 52nd and 57th Streets will be closed to vehicular traffic, and although Fifth Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic, one traffic lane will remain free and clear of booths, in order to allow for emergency vehicles to pass in case of an emergency, and no vendors or booths will be installed on sidewalks; and


WHEREAS, Kirkus Review will pay 20% of all fees collected from vendors to the City of New York, as mandated by the Rules of the Street Activity Permit Office Relating of Applications, Fees and Charges, and Kirkus will also donate 5% of its proceeds to charities involved with children, literacy and HIV, and will organize an auction scheduled to raise $25,000 to benefit the New York Public Libraries; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has agreed to submit a copy of his audited financials to Community Board Five after completion of the book fair; and

WHEREAS, the applicant has shown great willingness to work with Community Board Five to mitigate and alleviate the negative impact of the book fair on the neighborhood; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Community Board Five recommends approval of the book fair New York is Book Country on Fifth Avenue between 52nd Street and 57th Street, on Sunday September 14th 2008.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 20 in favor; 11 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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