Volume 19 Issue 44 | March 16 - 22, 2007

Neighbors say Wall St. night traffic worsens

By Brooke Edwards

In addition to dealing with a slew of construction projects and a constantly fluctuating security zone, some Financial District residents say navigating the neighborhood’s narrow streets and sidewalks is being increasingly complicated by local event venues, which take advantage of a lack of police patrol and make their own rules when it comes to parking and street or sidewalk closures.

“The whole area down there, on Wall St. and William St. and Hanover Square, it’s a mess,” said Robert Gould, who lives at 3 Hanover Square.

Gould, president of the First Precinct Community Council, said these streets are frequently blocked by lines of black cars waiting to pick up customers from places such as Cipriani and Bayard’s. Gould was quick to say, “They’re great institutions. They generate a lot of income for the area.” But he also said that these businesses lay down their own cones to block sidewalks, divert traffic and create parking wherever they wish, which exacerbates the problems caused by the New York Stock Exchange security zone.

Since Wall St. has been under construction, Gould said that when there is a big event at Cipriani, they often block William St. with cones.

Gould said they’re getting away with it. “There is no traffic agent in that area at that time of night,” he said. “They need to hire night people like they do all over the city.”

Dep. Inspector Anthony Bologna, commander of the First Precinct, said police have responded to complaint calls about parking and disturbances from honking horns in the area, but acknowledged a shortage of available patrol staff during a community council meeting last month. The problem, he said, is that, “The residents are increasing faster than police personnel.” He said, “It is no longer the case that the community and businesses down there shut down at seven o’clock.” Bologna asked community members to write letters, requesting increased funding and staffing for the First Precinct, saying, “We need help.”

During a phone interview Monday, Bologna said they have been monitoring the situation, but that there haven’t been any major events at Cipriani in the past few weeks.

When asked about allegations that they were blocking off sidewalks and causing congestion on the streets surrounding Cipriani a spokesperson said, “It’s a problem all over the city. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Bayard’s did not respond to requests for comment.

Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1 and a resident of the area herself, said she has not personally heard any complaints about the event venues, but said, “It’s very, very difficult to navigate down there.” She said C.B. 1 would definitely look into the situation if it continues to be a problem.

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