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Officials Propose 'Times Square Commons' Plan for Ped Plazas

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[A new plan proposes moving costumed characters in Times Square to special zones. Photo by Andrew F. Kazmierski /]

Nobody liked Mayor de Blasio's proposal for dealing with the so-called issue of Times Square's pedestrian plazas—to "take a fresh look" at them, or, in plainer terms, consider getting rid of them. Still, the controversy rages on, with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and other city officials backing a plan that would remove not just the topless women and costumed superheroes from those public spaces, but remove the spaces altogether. But in a New York Daily News op-ed, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, along with City Council members Daniel Garodnick and Corey Johnson, proposed an alternate solution.

The proposal calls for the establishment of what the trio called "Times Square Commons," a pedestrian-only chunk of land between 42nd and 47th Streets that's divided into three areas with different purposes. One section would be for seating and cultural events; another would be strictly for "any activity involving the immediate exchange of money for goods, services or entertainment" (so, the furry Elmos and the topless women); and a third would be devoted to dedicated, obstacle-free walkways. (Admittedly, that last one is a pretty good idea.) This, the trio says, would "protect the diversity of people and activities" in Times Square.

The proposal also included recommendations for directing offenders to the Midtown Community Court, which finds more humane ways to deal with quality-of-life offenses; and for conducting a traffic study in Times Square to determine where congestion abatement is needed the most.

So far, the proposal has met with positive responses: The Daily News again reported on the reaction from the Times Square Alliance, whose president, Tim Tompkins, called it a "relatively simple resolution to some complex problems." CB5 Chairwoman Vikki Barbero also tacitly endorsed the idea, saying, "We welcome this first step." Of course, this is just one idea—a task force, led by Commissioner Bratton, is currently looking at a bunch of proposals for what to do with the space. They have until October 1 to do so.
· Proposal to confine costumed characters, topless performers to 'activity zone' gets major backing [NYDN]
· A Times Square solution, in reach: Create a commons with three zones [NYDN]
· Everybody Hates de Blasio's Times Square Overhaul Proposal [Curbed]
· All Times Square coverage [Curbed]