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Car-Free Parks

Community Boards Line Up for Car-Free Central Park. Whither Bloomberg?

By unanimous voice vote, the full board of Manhattan CB 11 has passed a resolution endorsing a summer trial for a car-free Central Park. Says park advocate Ken Coughlin, "We have the agreement of all the boards surrounding the park and are now waiting for a response from DOT on whether they will move ahead with a July 4 weekend to Labor Day closing."

The proposal has gained near-universal support at the community board level, with hundreds of board members voting in favor and only a handful of votes against, and is simpatico with the wishes of Central Park Conservancy head Douglas Blonsky. But it will need a push to overcome resistance from Mayor Bloomberg.

Coughlin says the next step will be a public campaign by Council Member Gale Brewer and others. (Streetsblog has messages in with Brewer's office for details.) The Manhattan Borough Board must also cast an official vote on the resolution, Coughlin says, "Which will give us another opportunity to raise the issue, but we hope we won't need it by then."

Not only would the trial give users much needed room and the freedom to enjoy the city's premier green space without having to dodge cars and suck exhaust this summer, the effect would spill over into surrounding neighborhoods, which could expect a major drop in cut-through traffic. Given the benefits and such a diverse base of approval, it's hard to imagine what constituency the mayor would be playing to by refusing to close the Loop Drive for two months.

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