Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SoHo Residents Protest DOT Bike Share's "Illegal" Take Over Of Petrosino Square's Art Space

Protesters lined new SoHo bike rack Saturday as bike share plan is set to start Monday in several areas across the city.
A R T  I N  P E T R O S I N O  P A R K. Protesters lined the newly installed bikes in Petrosino Square on Saturday to demand that the DOT restore the Parks Department property back to a public outdoor art space.  (Photos: Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News) 


By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday's dreary weather did not deter dozens of people from coming out and demanding the City's Department of Transportation (DOT) remove the Citi-Share Bike docking station racks at Petrosino Square. For weeks area residents have been protesting the taking away of the park's northern most section which for decades has been used as a public art space.

Members of the Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino Lodge of the Sons of Italy in America joined the protest as did Comptroller John Liu and local councilwoman Margaret Chin.  

Former Councilmember Alan Gerson who allocated the funds to renovate the park was also in attendance.  

The DOT has already been forced to remove several docking stations as a result of lawsuits and negative publicly. 

"We do not want Citi Bank-branded and Mastercard-branded advertising in a space designated for beauty, contemplation, and independent thought," says Friends of Petrosino Square founder Georgette Fleischer.

Parks Department regulations specifically prohibit the erecting of any structure inside a NYC Park  without the "approval of the Commissioner." 

§1-05 Regulated Uses

"3. No person shall erect any structure, stand, booth, platform, or exhibit in connection with any assembly, meeting, exhibition or other event without approval of the Commissioner or his or her designated representative,"  the regulations state.  

Pete Davies of Friends of Petrosino asks how the DOT is getting away with this when the agency had previously gone on the record saying that the Petrosino location was "not an appropriate location for a bike station."   

On April 5, 2012 an email was sent to the DOT Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione and the Director of Bike Share on behalf of Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro stating the agency's objection.    

Davies points out that the Parks Department has been "SILENT & INVISIBLE"  since the controversy broke.

He says the group has collected almost 500 signatures on a petition to DOT saying the bikes & racks should be moved out of the arts space at Petrosino.

Artist Minerva Durham says she been "protesting the theft of the art installation space in Petrosino Square by the New York City Department of Transportation and Citibank," since April 28th, a day after they discovered DOT was planning to install the racks.   

She said she and Georgette Fleischer stopped the bike-rack installation the night before when DOT came but the agency "secretly" came back in the middle of the night and installed the racks.

"We love bikes we just want them in an appropriate location," said Ms. Durham.     

Spring Studio held free outdoor drawing classes on memorial day at Petrosino Square to protest DOT's continued occupation she said.     

Minerva will be teaching her 9:30 am and 1:00 pm art classes out doors all this week weather permitting.  

Several members of the group attended the city's official press launch event yesterday morning at a docking station near City Hall across from the Brooklyn Bridge.  The event was presided over by Mayor Bloomberg and attended by the DOT commissioner and Michele F. Imbasciani of Citibank, a sponsor of New York's new bike share program.

Critics held up signs that read,  "Cyclists for Art in Petrosino Park" and "Artists for Art in Petrosino Park." 

Mr. Fleischer said she hand-delivered a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan asking her to remove Citi Bike from the park.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Lili Okellis, 10, protests in silence on a CitiBike in Petrosino Square in SoHo. She and others say the park space should be for art instead of bikes.  

Two weeks ago several elected officials sent a strongly worded letter to DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan demanding the bike racks be removed.

"Prior to the start of installation, the Department of Transportation agreed that placement within Petrosino Square Park was inappropriate. The Department of Parks concurred that such placement was improper,"  said the May 9th letter signed by State Assemblymember Deborah Glick,  State Senator Daniel Squadron and  Councilmember Margaret Chin.
"...they (Bike Share racks) should not, under any circumstances, be placed inside Petrosino Square Park," the letter continued.

"We urge the Department of Transportation to follow through on the previous agreement not to have a docking station within Petrosino Park, and relocate it immediately."

ART NOT ADS. (Photo: Peter A. Davis) Click on image to enlarge.

Read More:

The Wall Street Journal - May 27, 2013 - By Josh Dawsey

WPIX - May 27, 2013 - By Hilary Whittier

WCBS - May 27, 2013 

Guardian.co.uk  - May 27, 2013 - By Matt Williams and Amanda Holpuch 

My Fox - May 27, 2013  

New York Times - May 27, 2013  - By Matt Flegenheimer

New York Post - May 26, 2013 - By Jennifer Bain 

SoHo residents protest bike share station, say bicycles would get in the way of public art
New York Daily News - May 25, 2013 - By Peter Moskowitz and Erin Durkin

Bike Share Battle

Protestors Against Location Bike Share Program
WABC - May  25, 2013

Parks Dept. vs. DOT In Bike Fight As Soho Residents Blast Bike
Share Station Installed In Artist Exhibit Space In Park
A Walk In The Park -  May 9, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

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