Promoters exploit agency overlap to host Midtown events

November 21, 2013 03:30PM

Taking advantage of confusion between city agencies tasked with manning public plazas and parks, corporate promoters are flooding areas like Times Square and pedestrian plazas along Broadway with crowds and attractions.

Times Square, for example, was the site of no less than three stages, a catwalk and a giant TruTV Guinness World Records sculpture on Nov. 6, which shocked the local community board, who thought the proposed event had been cancelled.

“Current regulations are not successfully protecting the public nature of these spaces,” Raju Mann, Community Board 5’s acting land use and zoning committee chairman, told DNAinfo.

While events in park spaces must request permission from the Department of Parks and Recreation 21 days in advance, pedestrian plazas overseen by the city Department of Transportation and the mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office require no advance notice or community board notification, officials told DNAinfo. As a result, groups who don’t want to bother with the Parks Department timeline often turn to DOT and SAPO regulators to host their events, critics of the practice told DNAinfo.

“The balance has tipped far too much towards commercialization of these spaces with limited public benefit,” CB5 wrote in a letter to City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden on Nov. 15, DNAinfo reported.

The board, according to the letter, said it voted on a resolution to improve the city’s process for regulating public events in parks and plazas. The Parks Department, in a statement to DNAinfo, said that it “has not been presented with any proposal to amend our special event permit regulations.” [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland