Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Petrosino Square Citi-Bike Share Fight Goes To Court

"Taking a public park and an art-installation space —cherished by the community for decades — for a commuter bike dock is terrible policy. More importantly, it is against the law.  We are hopeful that Judge Kern will turn it back to the community."  - attorney Jim Walden 

From This: 

July 2012.  Carole Feuerman’s exhibition Survival of Serena in the artist space located in the northern part of Petrosino Square, a public park located on Lafayette Street and Cleveland Pl. between Kenmare & Spring Streets at the intersection of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.

Oral arguments were heard today before Justice Cynthia Kern in the community 's fight against the Department of Transportation's installation of a Citi-Bike location in Petrosino Square in Soho. The DOT installed the rack on the northern tip of the Parks Department owned property on April  27, 2013, in a park space dedicated to art installations despite the neighborhood's objection. The Parks Department also objected.   (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  

Judge Kern began by trying to set the city straight: She didn't want to hear that Petrosino Square wasn't a park.  Corporation Council absurdly tried to argue in their response to the lawsuit that the Square belonged to the DOT. 

To This: 

A 32-dock Citi Bike docking station was surreptitiously installed in Petrosino Square in the middle of the night on April 27th blocking a popular artist exhibition space in the tiny city park and taking away a 1/3 of the park's length.  According to the Parks Deparement,  Petrosino Square, formerly known as Kenmare Square, is one of the most programmed parks in the city  for art with 35 exhibitions of temporary public art since 1985.  

The parks borough commissioner for Manhattan wrote to DOT Manhattan commissioner Margaret Forgione and the Director of Bike Share program last year saying this was not an appropriate location for a bike station.  The original site was switched and the DOT installed it in Petrosino Square.    

- Geoffrey Croft


What a rack-et.

The city ignored state law and its own regulations in installing Citi Bike racks at two Manhattan locations, lawyers charged in court on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. 

The city Department of Transportation and the Parks Department improperly ate up 20 percent of the space in tiny Petrosino Park when they installed a bike share rack there this spring and failed to get necessary approval from the state Legislature, lawyer Jim Walden told Justice Cynthia Kern in Manhattan Supreme Court. 

City lawyer Sarah Kogel-Smucker said the bike rack only took up four percent of the SoHo park, and legislative action wasn't necessary because the rack is a recreational use for park-goers. 

Walden countered the park is too small for bike riding, and noted that the entire Citi Bike program is geared toward commuters, not park recreation.

 "You have a duck, and you know it's a duck because it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, introduced itself as a duck and is wearing a t-shirt saying, 'I am a duck,' with a corporate logo emblazoned on it," Walden said. 

"It's not a cow." 

June 19, 2013. Attorney Jim Walden and community residents address the media  Petrosino Square the day lawsuit was filed. 

Another lawyer, Steven Shore, challenged the placement of a Citi Bike rack near an apartment building entrance on the north side of West 13th Street.  

He noted DOT's initial map for the placement of the rack was on the south side of the street, where it wouldn't interfere with traffic and access to the building. 

Instead, they put it on the north side, where it prevents emergency vehicles - and garbage trucks - from being able to stop directly in front of the building, Shore said. 

As a result, sanitation workers often have to heave garbage over the racks — leaving trash on the street that attracts vermin, the lawyer said.

"How would you feel if you lived in a building and when you went outside, rats were everywhere?" Shore asked the judge.

"I do, actually," the judge replied - garnering big laughs from the packed courtroom. 

Shore said the city violated so many of its own regulations with the placement of the rack "it makes your head spin." 

City lawyer Mary O'Sullivan maintained the W. 13th Street rack "does not interfere with ingress or egress with the building," and its placement was proper and important because they could not install one on the busier 14th Street. 

Kern will issue a ruling at later date.  

For years the community fought to improve Petrosino Square which was finally renovated.    (Photo:  Georgette Fleischer/Friends of Petrosino Square)  

Read More:

The Villager -  October 10, 2013 - By Lincoln  Anderson

 A Walk In The Park  - May 28, 2013  

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