Proposal to New York City DOT to Study the Feasibility of Improving the Visibility and Utilization of Privately-Owned Public Spaces between Sixth and Seventh Avenues from 51st Street to 57th Street
WHEREAS, Midway between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, from 51st Street through 57th Street, there are eleven public passageways running north-south through the blocks; and
WHEREAS, Some of these passageways are within buildings, some are exterior, and others are open to the air but covered, with a number of them having amenities like seating, tables, plantings, and art; and
WHEREAS, These passageways are all privately-owned public spaces (POPS), which are easements created through New York City zoning laws in 1961 granting public access to private property; and
WHEREAS, These passageways are all within the Special Midtown District, which until relatively recently required "through-block connections" for all development taking place within the entire block; and
WHEREAS, Because existing zoning regulations have required developers, when creating through-block connections, to line them up with existing connections on adjacent blocks, these midtown POPS already form a relatively continuous and uninterrupted route from 51st Street to 57th Street; and
WHEREAS, Because many of these midtown POPS remain unknown to and underused by the general public, and more effective utilization of open space for the benefit of pedestrians while mitigating traffic congestion within our district are stated goals of Community Board Five; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five requests the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to undertake a study, consistent with that previously requested for a comprehensive surface transportation plan for midtown Manhattan, to determine the feasibility of improving both the visibility and safe utilization of these urban plazas for which they originally had been intended by: (1) identifying them with clear but unobtrusive pedestrian-oriented signage; and (2) creating controlled and clearly-marked pedestrian crossings that also prohibit or significantly restrict parking at those locations.
The above resolution passed with a vote of 35 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining.