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Transportation & Environment

Update on DOT's Green Light for Midtown Pilot program.

WHEREAS, The City Department of Transportation (DOT) has come before Manhattan Community Board Five (CB5) to review the Green Light for Midtown pilot design project for Broadway between 59th and 22nd Street (the "Pilot Program"), which includes a number of elements including the creation of public pedestrian plazas; and

WHEREAS, Such plazas are intended for the benefit of the public and designed to promote passive recreation and a peaceful respite, the same function as city parks and waterfront esplanades; and

WHEREAS, The Pilot Program has received an overwhelmingly favorable response from the public and has made a positive impact on the pedestrian and vehicular experience; and

WHEREAS, More Times Square area employees say they are leaving their offices for lunch and more theatre-goers are finding access to the area easier, while a survey by the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership has given the plazas an 84% approval rating; and 

WHEREAS, DOT has pro-actively sought and is receptive to suggestions from the affected constituencies, including business owners and BIDs, regarding the aesthetic and functional design, traffic changes, and programming; and

WHEREAS, DOT asserts that it will continue to seek community involvement and support if the project is approved and the plazas are re-designed as permanent; and

WHEREAS, DOT is awarding Sole Source License Agreements to the Flatiron BID, Fashion Center BID, 34th St. Partnership and the Times Square Alliance, for the operation, management and maintenance of the pedestrian plazas, including the right to award sponsorships, sub-concessions and events intended to generate revenue for each plaza's maintenance; and

WHEREAS, While CB5 welcomes the programming of public space for entertainment, education, and philanthropic activities, it has taken a strong and consistent stance regarding the over-commercialization of our parks and public open spaces, the overcrowding of sidewalks with newsstand and other concessioners, and predominantly commercial street activities; and

WHEREAS, CB5 has concerns that sub-concession and street activities awarded under these agreements could violate established community standards regarding these issues; and

WHEREAS, The Chair of CB5 is a board member on each of the BIDs and appoints a liaison to represent the Community Board at their board meetings and public activities; and

WHEREAS, The Community Board, in accordance with the City Charter Chapter 70, Section 2800, Item d17, "...shall exercise the initial review of applications and proposals of public agencies and private entities for the use, development or improvement of land located in the community district..."; and

WHEREAS, CB5's prior resolution has yielded positive results by fostering an improved dialogue and communications with the BIDs, DOT, and the Office of the Mayor to address our concerns regarding the Pilot Program, namely;

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five, with an enhanced role in ongoing evaluation and input, now supports making permanent the "Green Light for Midtown" pilot project. 

The above resolution passed with a vote of 35 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstaining.

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