Volume 21, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 30 - February 5, 2009
Bad taste of Garlic Run lingers, but Board 2 gives its approval
By Albert Amateau
Little Italy’s traditional big street events, a boon to merchants and a trial to many residents, won conditional approval last week from Community Board 2.
That’s not to say that the community board really has the make-or-break approval for the 82nd San Gennaro festival in September.
Or that the 22nd annual June Garlic Run by more than 1,500 motorcyclists in the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club from New Jersey to Little Italy really depends on the community board’s O.K.
Or that the 14th annual Mulberry St. Mall, which converts half of Mulberry St. and a block of Hester St. into a car-free, open-air cafe and market for 18 weekends from May to Labor Day must get the board’s nod.
After all, community board recommendations are only advisory. But they are great sounding boards for local concerns.
The full board narrowly approved the Garlic Run, to take place on June 17, by 17 to 15, at its Jan. 22 meeting. Opponents resented what they described as an army of noisy motorcycles roaring through the Holland Tunnel to Little Italy.
The event is intended to raise money for seriously sick children. Last year, four children from New Jersey received $8,000 each. Blue Knights leaders this year agreed that two children in the Board 2 area would benefit if they had funds set up to administer contributions to their medical bills.
As another condition, the Blue Knights would try to make sure that participants in the run have federally approved mufflers to reduce noise.
They also promised to better enforce the rule that all bikers had to be out of the area by midnight. Zella Jones, a C.B. 2 member from Noho, said that the noise and crowds last year were worse than ever. But John Fratta, a C.B. 1 member and Democratic state committeeman representing the area, said that last year and this year, the bikers agreed to park their machines on Lafayette St. in the courthouse area and walk to their restaurants in Little Italy.
“There may have been one or two bikers on Mulberry St. late at night, but it was not a problem,” he said later.
Keen Berger, who dissented from C.B. 2’s majority vote, said she didn’t buy into the bargain that two local children would benefit from the event.
“A sick child is a sick child no matter where he or she is from,” she said. Berger also questioned whether children with funds set up are really the neediest. And in response to the perception that the event would get city approval no matter what the board did, Berger said the board should still be able to say “No.”