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Transportation & Environment

Evaluation of the “Green Light for Broadway” Pilot design project.

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

WHEREAS, The 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, public plazas, and waterfront esplanades; and

WHEREAS, The pilot design project has received an overwhelmingly favorable response and 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; and a survey by the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership gave the plazas an 84% approval rating, and 

WHEREAS, DOT has pro-actively sought and is receptive to suggestions from the effected constituencies including business owners, BIDs, etc, 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 (agreements) to the Flatiron BID, Fashion Center BID, 34th St. Partnership and the Times Square Alliance (BIDs), 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, an excess of predominantly commercial street activities, and 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, CB 5 has an strong relationship and history of cooperation with the BIDs and DOT, yet has not been asked to provide input regarding the License Agreements between the BIDs and DOT; and

WHEREAS, In response to CB5 testimony on August 17, 2009 at a public hearing on the matter, the DOT in a letter dated August 18, 2009 commits that it will conduct annual meetings with the Community Board at the end of each fiscal year to discuss and review the previous year's activities and operations and will sent CB5 Public Solicitation Notices subject to the Franchise and Concessions Review Committee; and

WHEREAS, Special events and activities must first be approved by DOT and then seek the approval of the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), an agency that routinely dismisses CB5's concerns regarding street activity permits; and

WHEREAS, DOT is set to report to the Mayor in December 2009 with an evaluation of the "Green Light for Broadway" project and provide a recommendation on whether the plan should become permanent; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five makes the following recommendations to strengthen the "Green Light for Broadway" project:

-             Share their formula on how they pro-rate shares of revenue and expense for such events occupying each type of space, and

-             Develop a plan to minimize physical conflict between well established events and the new obstructions that will be permitted

 Be it further RESOLVED, that Community Board Five cannot approve making permanent the "Green Light for Broadway" plan under the terms of the DOT letter dated August 18, 2009 unless DOT adopts the aforementioned recommendations, especially to honor CB5's charter mandated role to review and comment on proposed events and sub-concessions for the duration of the License Agreement.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 40 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining.

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