New York City Council to Rein in Times Square Costumed Characters with New Bill
The New York City Council is moving forward with reining in the costumed characters of Times Square.
The New York Post reports that Council members have passed new legislation that will allow The Department of Transportation to set up a series of taped-off "commercial areas" this summer in which the costumed characters, often described as aggressive, will be allowed to operate. All other passages through the area will be reserved solely for pedestrians, with foot-traffic up to 480,000 on the busiest of days, according to The Times Square Alliance.
The legislation comes following a press conferences by those who claim to have been harassed by the likes of Elmo and Spider-Man, urging for the city to bring some order to the often chaotic pedestrian plaza.
"People should be able to visit Times Square and experience the quirkiness and edginess that makes it unique without having to run in the other direction every time they see Spider-Man," councilman Dan Garodnick said.
As BroadwayWorld's Michael Dale recently reported, "In a recent survey, 61% of Times Square employees reported experiencing a negative encounter with a costumed character or commercial solicitor, with 51% of those respondents saying that interaction made them feel unsafe."
Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins released the following statement after the vote this afternoon:"The passage of this bill ensures that the pedestrian plazas not only in Times Square, but also throughout all five boroughs, will be vibrant and successful public spaces. We thank all those who voted for the bill, especially Councilmembers Johnson, Garodnick, Rodriguez and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito for their leadership. Nor would this bill have been remotely possible without the active and engaged leadership of Mayor de Blasio and his team and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. The legislation was also developed collaboratively with Borough President Gale Brewer, Community Board 5, the NYC BID Association, and the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. We are immensely grateful to them all. Finally, we commit to working closely with government officials and all affected parties, including those working hard to earn a living on the plazas in Times Square, to thoughtfully address concerns that have been raised during the legislative process. By creating a better environment for those who work in the plazas and those who work in and visit the area, Times Square can continue to be the major economic engine it has always been, producing directly or indirectly one-tenth of all jobs in the city according to a 2012 study."