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Neighborhood With Many Deliveries Rejects Rest Stop for the Deliveristas Who Make Them

It's the second time a community board has turned down a proposed rest and recharging facility for the essential delivery workers.

Rendering: Fantástica|

Delivery workers are slated to get a new rest hub outside City Hall.

The Adams administration’s effort to install a first-of-its-kind hub for app-based delivery workers outside City Hall hit a road block on Tuesday night, when a community board in delivery-hungry Lower Manhattan voted against the much-needed rest and recharging facility.

The proposed kiosk with would replace a defunct, and non-historic, newsstand on Broadway, but members of Community Board 1 panned the proposal's design as too modern and suggested it would be better suited elsewhere.

"We are fine with these people doing their job, but these people have also taken over our sidewalks, endangering children and pets,” said CB1 member Vicky Cameron. “We're not voting 'no' on the business, we're voting 'no' on this business in this location.”

The rejection marked the second time a community board has snubbed the hub; a civic panel on the Upper West Side gave its thumbs down for another proposed outpost replacing an old newsstand at the 72nd Street subway station last year.

Mayor Adams announced the project nearly two years ago with Sen. Chuck Schumer, boasting $1 million funding support from Washington, but implementation has lagged amid pushback by residents and additional reviews by other city and state agencies.

The current structure outside City Hall looks old, but is actually a prefab box dating to the 1980s. It is not landmarked, but the project still needs the sign-off by the Landmarks Preservation Commission since it is in a historic district. 

The current newsstand dates to the 1980s, but has been vacant for years. Photo: Kevin Duggan

On Tuesday, the downtowners raised concerns that the new building would encroach too much on the sidewalk, which they noted is already busy with pedestrian traffic and regular protests outside the seat of city government, while deriding cyclists for riding on the foot path. 

“Stop taking away our sidewalks, dammit,” said Brendan Thompson. “I support what deliveristas are trying to accomplish, but I don't support ... taking away additional sidewalk space here and also to give it to cyclists.

"It's a sidewalk. I don't want to have to continue to dodge cyclists coming at me at 35 miles per hour on a sidewalk," Thompson added. (In fact, the Department of Transportation promised to remove two adjacent parking spots currently reserved for City Hall to create a striped “access zone” for e-bike-riding workers to approach the facility, which would be staffed by the Worker’s Justice Project.)

Parks revealed the first renderings of its plans nearly two weeks ago to replace the vacant newsstand with a slightly larger building hosting 50 e-bike chargers, a place to rest, a small office space, and room for repairs and tuneups.

Worker’s Justice Project Executive Director Ligia Guallpa said she was disappointed by the result, and said she and Los Deliveristas Unidos would continue to organize for the critical infrastructure.

“We're deeply saddened by the community board’s vote on a critical need for essential workers,” Guallpa told Streetsblog. "We were glad to see some community board members actually understanding and support this even though we didn't get the final ‘Yes.'

“The same way deliverisats are essential, these deliverista hubs are essential to respond to the street safety issue that our city is experiencing,” Guallpa added. 

Several board members suggested using another vacant kiosk next to the Municipal Building at One Centre Street that does have those facilities. 

"I don't think anybody in this room doesn't support the deliveristas and having a location," said board chair Tammy Meltzer. "Is this the right location? Could we find a better place for them that could get a access to a public bathroom, access to a larger place where more charging stations were outside ... and those questions have not been answered because they're looking at the silo of what fits into a kiosk."

Manhattan Community Board 1 voted against the proposal at its March 26 full board meeting.Photo: Kevin Duggan

Several board members also spoke in favor of the project, saying the perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. 

"I don't particularly love the way that it looks, but I think that the need is so clear and obvious,” said Rosa Chang. “It should 100 percent have bathrooms [but] for us to not do this right now because it doesn't have bathrooms, the answer's no, because the need is so immediate and we should be creating these spaces.  

The board’s resolution to urge LPC to disapprove the application garnered 30 votes in support of a denial and 10 against. Parks plans to still present the proposal to Landmarks officials in April, said agency spokesperson Kelsey Jean-Baptiste.

It is worth nothing that the residents of Community Board 1 are among the most prolific placers of orders for delivery, according to a Streetsblog analysis, though the Upper West Side community board that previously rejected a rest stop for delivery workers makes use of the workers' toil to an even greater extent.

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