Central Park No Longer a Parking Lot for City Employees

5th_ave.jpgAccording to a Streetsblog tipster, the Parks Dept. is finally cracking down on the numerous employees who have turned sections of Central Park into a parking lot. Below is a broadcast e-mail from Parks Dept. Assistant Commissioner and Senior Counselor Jack Linn to Parks Dept. employees. I have a call in to the Parks Dept. to verify this e-email. Here is the message that was reportedly sent out on Friday:

—–Original Message—–
From: Parks Dept. Assistant Commissioner Jack Linn
Sent: Fri 8/3/2007 12:04 PM
To: Broadcast Message
Subject: East Drive Parking Permits

All employee parking permits for Central Park’s East Drive are hereby revoked, effective August 15, 2007. If you believe your circumstances justify having a permit for parking, you must reapply by filling out one of the usual forms available in my office.

As always, your request must be endorsed by a Commissioner or Chief on the line provided on the application form.

Anyone who does not now have a permit but feels justified in requesting one may also apply at this time.

However, we intend to reduce the overall number of vehicles on the East Drive, so any request for a permit may be denied, whether it is a request for a renewal or for a first-time permit.

And, of course, you can find lots more on this issue at UncivilServants.org.  

  • Steve

    Great news, this will hopefully free up some space and limit car traffic on East Drive. East Drive is a unique space because of the mixed uses–pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, skaters and carriages. As it is not part of the Loop, the bicyclists generally maintain lower speeds, creating opportunities for kids to play and other “low-speed” uses. Limiting the cars on East Drive can only help this space. Here’s an illustrative video clip from last fall:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8mF80zvgPA

    This shows why bicycles would not “ruin” the car-free block on East 91st Street if a bike route were located there–as we all know, pedestrians and bicyclists can and do co-exist.

  • t

    Lets get city parks closed to ALL cars at all times and then we’ll see real progress. Parked cars are an aesthetic nuisance. Moving cars are a threat to physical safety.

    It’s nice to see these incremental steps, but the solution is so simple: put up gates or bollards at all of the park entrances and cars won’t be able to enter in the first place.

  • Hannah

    Wow, I hope that’s true. It would be interesting to see the permit application and the criteria for deciding whether “circumstances justify having a permit for parking.”

  • mike

    t – While your solution may be physically easy to accomplish, it is not politically easy, as there are entrenched interests in maintaining as much automobile access to the park as possible.

    If you have any suggestions as to how to make this happen faster, I’m sure we’d all be interesting in hearing them.

  • Steve

    Yes, I will be particularly interested to see whether retired Park Department official Alan Moss will have either of his two “East Drive (Citywide)” placards revoked, and whether they will be re-issued:

    http://nyc.uncivilservants.org/post/index/648

  • psycholist

    Credit where credit’s due – it’s a step in the right direction.

  • t

    I don’t know how you get around entrenched automobile interests, but one way would be for the DOT and the Parks Dept. to close the parks, say for one or two days, and to monitor the effect on neighboring streets. If those who insist that the parks remain open to cars to alleviate traffic think they are correct, then they should be open to such a study. If the results show that there is no or little effect, then keep the parks closed.

    It is a step in the right direction, no question. Every little step will hopefully move us closer to car-free parks.

  • T,
    Trial closure needs to be longer – a month at least. Otherwise drivers anticipating an open park will still drive to the area, discover it’s closed, then clog some of the immediate streets around. Drivers will need ample time to change expectations and driving habits before they re-route.

  • t

    I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to a month closing!

  • Steve

    his policy is welcome but the impact will be limited. Approximately half of the vehicles parked on East Drive are “official”-plated Parks Dep’t vehicles, typical alterantive or hybrid fuel vehicle, that aren’t for personal use. This policy doesn’t seem to address those.

    Then there are the “official”-plated vehicles that appear to be used by Parks Dep’t employees for personal commuting. That’s about 25% of the total. Those generally are parked without placards, but sometimes they have them. Not sure where they fit in under the new policy.

    The remaining 25% of the cars use either a placard or some paraphernalia on the dash intended to make the person look “authorized.” It appears that this the primary group that will be affected under this policy (hope I am mistaken).

    Parks should figure out how many spaces they think are necessary on East Drive (my vote: zero), and then move this barrier (http://www.flickr.com/photos/43954081@N00/963335073/) south so that only the necessary number of spaces are available, and ticket everyone north of the barrier or who is not “authorized.”

  • JF

    I agree, Steve. I can’t help wondering if a lot of these official Parks vehicles are used for jobs that, fifty years ago, would have been done quite comfortably and efficiently with a pushcart or wheelbarrow, and trips that would have been taken on foot, by bus or by subway.

    Just because they’re hybrid or natural-gas doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous or destructive.

  • steve

    Good point JF. I am not in love with the little scooters that drive along the pathways to do various maintenace jobs, but one can at least see their utility as replacements for wheelbarrows, etc., as well as the pickups and other traditional vehicles Parks uses (probably horses were used at some point). But why is there a 30-vehicle fleet of white and green hybrid passenger sedans? There may well be an explanation but it is not readily apparent.

  • Steve

    Good news and bad news. The good news is that as of today, there were significantly fewer cars parked with DP&R “East Drive” placards on East Drive. I counted ten–and all of them had placards issued in January 2007 and therefore invalid under the email featured in the post. Also, I did not see retired DD&R Ass’t Commissioner Alan Moss’s two private vehicles parked with East Drive placards on the southern portion of the bridle path (where they had been long-term parked for months). While there is still some work left to do to enforce the new policy, thank you Parks Department for giving these parts of the park back to park users!

    The bad news: There were significantly more cars parked with invalid firefighters’ union and NYPD restricted placards on East Drive than usual–apparently filling the vaccuum created by the DP&R policy. Since DP&R parking enforcement personnel can and do issue summonses on NYPD-placarded vehicles (http://nyc.uncivilservants.org/post/index/520),let’s have at it!

    The other bad news is that the policy does not seem to have had any impact on the number of P&RD “official” plated vehicles parked on East Drive (including those apparently available for personal use), which are the majority of the cars that park on East Drive.

  • Steve

    Parks Department’s new placard policy is working, but as these pictures show that no new usable space has been created for park users:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43954081@N00/1151863550/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43954081@N00/1151019423/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43954081@N00/1151864272/

    As described in #10 above, Parks has to concentrate any cars that remain legally parked on East Drive into as small an area as possible in order to “give back” usuable space to park users.

    In addition, cars continue to park with invalid permits.

  • Jeff

    Why not provide “Manhattan beach” by closing these roads for July & August, covering them with sand, beach volley ball, street merchants, etc.

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