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Car-Free Parks

Car-Free Central Park Trial Picks Up More Community Board Endorsements

3:17 PM EDT on June 8, 2011

Support for a car-free Central Park trial is gaining momentum, with three additional community board nods.

There are two proposals in play. The first would close the park to cars for four months, from the July 4 weekend through the first weekend in November. A second plan, from the Manhattan Borough Board (borough boards are comprised of the borough president, borough City Council members, and the chair of each community board) would end the trial on Labor Day but allows for a DOT extension. Here's the latest:

    • Manhattan CB 7 has approved both the original and Borough Board resolutions by votes of 32-1 and 29-1, respectively.
    • The transportation committee of CB 11 approved the Borough Board resolution unanimously.
    • The CB 1 Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee also passed the Borough Board reso with a unanimous vote.

So far, of approximately 90 member votes from six different Manhattan community boards, only four members have cast their lot against temporarily returning Central Park to its original purpose (minus the transverses). These include favorable votes from Community Boards 5, 7, and 8. The car-free reso failed on a 2-1 vote with two abstentions before the CB 9 transpo committee, but is expected to come up again before the full board.

How much weight such widespread support will carry with the heretofore unimpressed Mayor Bloomberg -- CB votes are only advisory, after all -- remains an open question. But as the late Jane Jacobs wrote to park advocate Ken Coughlin in 2002:

"A trial [closing], with traffic counts on the Central Park perimeter streets, will be more persuasive than any amount of talk, letter-writing, resolutions, and other endless wheel-spinning."

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