Volume 16 • Issue 35 | January 30 - February 05, 2004

Vendor law is close, Albany says

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Downtown Express photo by Robert Stolarik

Twin Tower memorabilia being hawked this week near the World Trade Center site.

The area around the World Trade Center site will be vendor-free under a near-completed agreement negotiated by Albany lawmakers, legislative sources said on Wednesday.

A state law regulating vending expired last March, clogging city sidewalks as peddlers flocked to streets where they had once been banned. Lawmakers, whose efforts to revive the bill stalled last year, are very close to reaching an agreement, said Justin Bernbach, a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district includes the W.T.C. site.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg has also been involved in the negotiations.

“We’re optimistic we’ll have a bill in the next couple of weeks,” said Jordan Barowitz, a Bloomberg spokesperson.

Assemblymember Steven Sanders (D-Manhattan), the sponsor of the Assembly bill, said vending would be banned around the entire perimeter of the World Trade Center site and also on Broadway south of Murray St., as well as on parts of Church St. and West St. He said he could not offer any more details until the agreement is reached, which could be within a week.

“Many of us recognize that whatever else the World Trade Center site is or will become in the future, it is also a cemetery,” Sanders said Jan. 29 in a telephone interview.

Robert Led-erman, a painter and vendor advocate, decried lawmakers’ efforts to prohibit vending around the trade center site, calling them hypocritical.

“They’re go-ing to rebuild the World Trade Center and have a huge mall in it, and every store will sell World Trade Center memorabilia, you can be sure of that,” Lederman said.

Lawmakers had struggled to reach an agreement on vending before the legislative recesses last June and December. Sticking points included a Senate-proposed provision to fingerprint vendors, which the Assembly rejected. The new bill contains no provisions on fingerprinting vendors selling legal, non-counterfeit items, Sanders said.

In December, Community Board 1 members passed a resolution urging lawmakers to resolve their differences and agree to new legislation restricting where vendors were permitted. The resolution stated, “The proliferation of street vendors has long been a serious problem in Community Board 1.”

The resolution called for a ban or severe restrictions on vending on the busiest streets in the World Trade Center vicinity, and on Broadway, Fulton, and Canal Sts.

Dave Stanke, a resident of 114 Liberty St. who has been displaced since 9/11, suggested that the vending-free zone leave at least a one-block cushion around the trade center site so peddlers can’t cluster outside the footprints and hinder visitors. Stanke, who regularly checks on his building opposite the site in anticipation of a summer re-entry, said there have been fewer vendors along his block of Liberty St. since the ten-ten firehouse reopened there in November.

“It certainly is much nicer without them crowding around,” Stanke said.

In order for a bill to become law in New York State, identical versions must pass in both the Assembly and the Senate, and then Governor George Pataki must sign the bill into law. Pataki is likely to approve the vending bill under consideration now, Bernbach and Sanders said.



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