These streets were made for walking

February 26, 2013 Helen Klein
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It was a virtual cakewalk for Summer Streets.

After a public hearing earlier this month at which the proposal enjoyed smooth sailing, Community Board 10 voted unanimously to back the project, which involves shutting Third Avenue between 68th and 90th Streets to traffic on four Friday evenings this summer.

The idea is to for businesses along the strip to bring their offerings outside, with sidewalk cafés and displays, plus plenty of homegrown entertainment, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on July 19 and 26, and August 9 and 16. Last year, the plan was tried for eight blocks of Third Avenue, under the name Summer Stroll, and got generally positive reviews.

That, and the lack of opposition at the public hearing, made it easy for board members to take a position in favor of the event during the February 25 meeting at the Knights of Columbus, 13th Avenue and 86th Street.

They did ask, however, that the Merchants of Third Avenue – the organization behind the plan – provide the board office with a list of all sound permits, make sure that at least eight marshals are on hand on the nights of the event, and make sure that all city noise regulations are complied with.

“I think it’s a great testament to the organizers that it was so successful,” remarked board member Bob HuDock. “A lot of practical concerns came up and they were resolved. The success of the event is also due to the fact that it’s a good concept. It shows, if you make the public streets safer, people come out and you have a vibrant social scene.”

“I think it’s going to be great,” opined City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who stopped by the board meeting. “Two of the four Fridays last year were bad weather and we still had fun.”

Bina Valenzano, who heads up the committee organizing the event for the merchant group, expressed gratification after board members voted. “We are so excited,” she said, “that the community board unanimously voted in favoring of having Summer Streets. I know that this year we will have even more performances, musicians and cultural events that will surpass all the programming at last year’s event.”

Like last time, all cross streets will be open to traffic and there will be marshals on every block, plus amped-up police presence. Unlike last year, Third Avenue merchants that are not included in the Summer Streets area will be able to sell food and other offerings within the designated area, though no outside vendors will be allowed to participate. Also, unlike last year, participants can apply for noise permits that enable them to offer entertainment with amplified sound, though no loud bass, drums or rock bands will be permitted.

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