Monday, August 22, 2011

Money and Summer Streets

Earlier this month, I made some suggestions of changes to Summer Streets for livable streets activists to fight for. I've got a few more, but first I wanted to address a comment by "Greg Temps" on that earlier post. Some of you might be wondering why I pay so much attention to what some random anonymous guy writes on the internet. (Beat.) I find his arguments particularly worth considering because they sound like something that someone at the DOT might say.

Almost everything you mention costs money. While the city shortens parade routes and threatens to cut teachers, maintaining the event as it is is hard enough.
This is a recipe for doing nothing, ever. I've lived in this city for a large chunk of the past forty years, and I can't remember a time when there wasn't something being cut from the budget. But I do believe that if you're making a case for the government to spend money, you should either suggest a revenue source or something else that could be cut. I think we can raise taxes a bit in this city, and I'm willing to pay more if it means a longer Summer Streets. I've also said that the budget for reconstructing city-owned highways and parkways should be cut back. Those would both provide more than enough money to cover the additional costs.

Food trucks and temporary sidewalk cafes cannot be allowed on Summer Streets as an integral part of the event is that NOTHING on the entire route is for sale.
That's not true. All of the existing businesses along the route are selling things like crazy. The corporate sponsors may not be selling anything immediately, but they are definitely making an advertising pitch. Does it really matter if I can't buy the applesauce right there?

There are existing food trucks, like the Mud Truck on Astor Place, that are evicted for Summer Streets. I think the Mud Truck contributes at least as much to the life of the plaza as the Starbucks does. Why does Starbucks get to keep selling coffee during Summer Streets, but the Mud Truck doesn't?

I don't particularly think that having "nothing for sale" is integral to the event. I mean, sure, we don't want it to turn into sixty blocks of tube socks and funnel cake, but I don't think that's a real danger here. There's a lot of middle ground between free applesauce and $5 mozzarepas.

The main point is that people need to take breaks, and when I take a break I don't want a mini zoomba class, I want to relax with a cup of iced coffee and people-watch. Right now it's hard to find a good spot for that, and I don't think it should be hard. I'd take a free cup of coffee, but I don't think that's in the budget.

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