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September 25, 2012 By Steven E. Greer
Since 2001, the Ritz Carleton in the southernmost portion of Battery Park City (BPC) has been the preferred residence of the visiting United Nations diplomats. With the opening of the Conrad Hotel this year, the northern half of BPC is now plagued by the UN Week traffic. On Monday, all of the streets surrounding the Conrad were packed with non-diplomatic livery cab SUVs and large tour buses. Blue Smoke restaurant was completely hidden by three tour buses parked bumper to bumper.
The most dangerous consequence of the illegally parked car service vehicles occurs at the Murray Street and North End Avenue intersection. Recall, new traffic lights were recently installed to deal with this intersection. North End Avenue in front of the Conrad Hotel is now all “No Standing” as well as having a new turning lane where parking used to be allowed. On Monday, black SUVs were blocking the turning lane, making it more difficult for pedestrians to be seen, and also being unsightly to diners at North End Grill. None of the cars had diplomatic plates, but rather were hired by the hotel guests.
The doormen at the Conrad are normally very diligent about evicting illegally parked cars, but the problem overwhelmed them Monday. One SUV driver, while making a U-turn, actually drove his vehicle onto the sidewalk directly by the glass door entrances to the Conrad, alarming many people. The police were called and cleared the street at approximately 2:40 PM, but the cars promptly returned.
If this problem is allowed to go unchecked, the chances that it will become yet another annual “Quality of Life” problem in BPC are great. Anyone seeing illegally parked tour buses and town cars during UN-week should call the First Precinct at (212) 334-0616 and also contact the TLC at (718) 267-4555.