Times Square task force meets to discuss pedestrian plaza's future; Zoning plan considered

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Thursday, September 17, 2015
Times Square Task Force meets to discuss pedestrian plaza's future; zoning plan considered
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Lauren Glassberg has more

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's task force on handling aggressive costumed characters in Times Square met for for the first time Thursday, and one plan being floated is to create several zones in the popular tourist attraction.

That idea, presented by the "Times Square Community," would divide the Crossroads of the World into three separates areas.

A so-called "activity zone" would be for people like the painted topless women and costumed characters, who take photos with tourists for money, while "civic zones" would be set aside for public events and "flow zones" would let pedestrians move freely through the area.

The mayor's task force is expected to present its findings by October 1, but ahead of that, the "Times Square Community" released their full vision for the future of the Crossroads of the World.

It is described as "a comprehensive proposal to solve the challenges facing Times Square, including aggressive solicitation, predatory behavior, and congestion."

The roadmap has three core elements, which include redefining the Broadway Plazas into zones, completing a Theater District congestion study to address pedestrian and vehicular issues, and sustaining and supporting a new NYPD Times Square Unit.

"Times Square should be a place of freedom of expression, freedom of movement and creativity, without being a free-for-all," Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins said. "The community's proposal creates a constitutional and data-driven framework for rationally regulating one of the world's great public spaces, and we are grateful to our elected officials for coming up with this thoughtful and comprehensive set of solutions."

A spokesperson for the mayor issued a statement: "Over the course of the past month, members of the de Blasio administration and the Times Square taskforce have been engaged in a number of internal and external conversations around Times Square. The taskforce convened a meeting today to allow members to share perspectives on how best to advance their common goals for Times Square. There will be another meeting with remaining members of the taskforce tomorrow. The group will continue internal and external conversations afterwards and reconvene to finalize recommendations before the end of the month. "

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