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Consents & Variances

The Madison Square Park Events Task Force Report

WHEREAS, Since 2004, Community Board Five's recommendations regarding large events in and around Madison Square Park, from post-parade events to the Big Apple BBQ, have been inconsistent and, therefore, confusing, very often with nothing more than philosophical differences as the basis for board members casting their votes; and

WHEREAS, In 2011, CB5 established the Madison Square Park Events Task Force to take on the responsibility of establishing a consistent approach to hearing applications for large events in and around Madison Square Park; and

WHEREAS, The MTF's mandate was to gather feedback from residents, businesses, the Flatiron BID, and Madison Square Park Conservancy, and collect information regarding the many large events that request the use of Madison Square Park and/or the surrounding area; and use those findings to form the basis for a report with recommendations to the Consents & Variances and Parks Committees and CB5, to assist CB5 in reaching consensus regarding these applications; and

WHEREAS, Over a period of three months, the task force gathered information by administering a survey to park users, residents, and workers around Madison Square Park, resulting in 501 responses; met with business owners and managers; and obtained input from neighborhood groups, city agencies, and other stakeholders; and

WHEREAS, The report of the task force (attached hereto, the "MSP Events Task Force Report") was circulated to the Consents & Variances and Parks Committees and adopted unanimously by the committees after discussion took place at the Joint Committee meeting on December 5, 2011, with comments and input taken from committee members and the public; and

WHEREAS, The report made the following recommendations:

I.                   Establish Definition of a Large Event

a.       Involves street closures OR

b.      More than 3 hours in duration and significantly blocks access through Park

(Presently includes Big Apple BBQ, Post-Parade Events, and US Open and Subway Series viewings)

II.                Standardize Evaluations of Applications for Large Events

a.       Evaluate event applications on an individual basis

b.      Require a group liaison from each event to work with the committee(s)

c.       Require meeting with group liaisons in advance of committee's hearing of application for      detailed progress review of plans for event; to include the BID, SAPO, and any other stakeholders at the committees' discretion

d.      Base committee evaluation on applicant's commitment to adhere to a uniform set of standards (see part III), applicant's adherence to those standards the previous year, and evidence of best efforts to enact improvements

e.       If application meets committee approval, make recommendation as an "Approval with Conditions"

f.       Conduct post-mortems after events' conclusions, to be considered as part of applicant's hearing the following year


III.             Adopt Uniform Event Standards

a.       Require submission of Layout Plan for Event

                                                              i.      Locate booths off of curbs whenever feasible; if not feasible, locate food booths on curbs opposite park perimeter (such as the east side of Madison Avenue)

                                                            ii.      Isolate all open food containers and open flames from the public

                                                          iii.      Keep emergency lanes cleared at all times; enforce strict prohibition on double parking

                                                          iv.      Street Closures

1.      Restrict number of street closures to levels used by an event in 2011; any expansion of the number of streets closed signifies unsupportable growth of the event

2.      Require posted notification of pending street closures near affected blocks one week in advance of event

                                                            v.      Access and Navigation

1.      Require submission of plan for management of queues/crowds outside of event area

2.      Require submission of plan for management of access through or around park, including the posting of alerts at edge of park if access is affected; including events in Worth Square

3.      Require submission of plan for maintaining access to dog run and playgrounds

b.      Amplified Sound

                                                              i.      No continuous usage of amplified sound for events lasting more than three hours; require submission of plan for breaking up music sets/periods of microphone use into shorter blocks of time

                                                            ii.      Present plans for PA system; and agree to best efforts to utilize greater number of speakers at lower volumes

                                                          iii.      Engage Acoustilog, Inc. or other sound engineer approved by CB5 to address layout and technical specifications in advance of event

                                                          iv.      Engage sound engineer to assess success of these measures at actual events, when possible

c.       Sanitation

                                                              i.      Require submission of plan for sanitation, both for Park interior as well as any streets closed during an event, including commitment to a minimum number of cleaning staff to be supplied by event producer for duration of event, in coordination and with the approval of the Dept. of Sanitation, MSPC, the BID, and any other parties donating sanitation services

                                                            ii.      Require submission of plans for vendors at event, and a commitment to limit the number of vendors who will sell or distribute items which lead to impactful litter, including balloons, silly string, wrapped candies, flyers, and postcards

                                                          iii.      Request information from Department of Sanitation regarding amount of garbage produced by an event, for use as a metric in determining an event's size and/or growth

d.      Mitigating Damage

                                                              i.      Continue utilization of snow fencing around lawns and planting areas, to be erected on start date of an event

                                                            ii.      Require fulfillment of the bonding requirement to Department of Sanitation and Parks Department when applicable

                                                          iii.      Investigate bonding requirement to additional city agencies to cover damage of tree beds and plantings in park and on street curbs

e.       Playgrounds

                                                              i.      Require dedicated security person to monitor use of playground

                                                            ii.      Prohibit event attendees from entering playground unless with a child

                                                          iii.      Prohibit food from events inside playground

IV.             Address Event Saturation

a.       Restrict Number of Events in Park

                                                              i.      Cap number of large events at 2011 levels

                                                            ii.      Deny applications for new large events which surpass these levels

b.      Restrict Frequency of Events in Park

                                                              i.      Coordinate with applicants and city agencies to prevent applications for large events on consecutive weekends

                                                            ii.      Deny any application for a pre-existing large event whose application is changing its dates to fall on a consecutive weekend with any other pre-existing large event

                                                          iii.      Deny any application for a new large event which falls on a consecutive weekend with any other pre-existing large event

                                                          iv.      Continue to encourage NYPD, SAPO and any other appropriate city agencies to investigate appropriate locations and/or alternate plans for street fairs and post-parade events, particularly those with continued growth; and

WHEREAS, The Consents & Variances and Parks Committees unanimously adopted the findings of the MSP Events Task Force Report and accepted the recommendations set forth in the report; and therefore be it

RESOLVED, That, in furtherance of the foregoing, Community Board Five hereby adopts the Policy on Madison Square Park Events attached hereto; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five urges the Department of Sanitation, the Parks Department, the Street Activity Permit Office, and the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management to review the MSP Events Task Force Report and its findings and to support the restrictions contained in the Policy on Madison Square Park Events as applied to applications relevant thereto.

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