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Residents Win Fight Against East 86th Street Newsstand

By Amy Zimmer | August 19, 2011 4:15pm

MANHATTAN — Upper East Siders scored a victory in their fight against a newsstand proposed for East 86th Street near Madison Avenue.

Residents on the block mounted a major fight, collecting more than 650 signatures in three days for an anti-newsstand petition and showing up en masse to express their anger a May Community Board 8 meeting. They worried of sidewalk overcrowding caused by the sleek silvery box, and they dreaded the sight of the constantly lit advertisements that would come with it.

Ultimately, the Department of Transportation nixed the plans because of a standpipe.

"Before an application can be approved its proposed location must pass an inspection for compliance with New York City Department of Transportation newsstand siting requirements, which ensure that newsstands do not negatively impact the safety and free flow of pedestrian traffic on sidewalks," Margaret Forgione, DOT's Manhattan Borough Commissioner wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who had asked the DOT to do a "rigorous review" of the proposal.

DOT said it inspected the site on July 8 and it was “rejected due to inadequate clearance to a standpipe."

“We’re delighted and relieved” said Patricia Yamada, 64, whose building, 12 E. 86th St., where she has lived for more than 30 years, would have been steps away from the newsstand.

"I am in and out of the building multiple times a day walking dogs, at all times of day, and continually think about the impact of the newsstand on the flow of people and traffic," she said. "I've been taking pictures showing all the traffic and tourists."

The block is a popular route for people coming from the subway and going to Museum Mile.

“Tour groups of 10, 15, 20 people are walking from the subway to the museums. It’s hard for me to get through with dogs I walk," she said. "There’s one old dog I have to rush to the curb, thinking he might pee in front of the building. That would have been a problem with the newsstand."

Residents said the stand would have taken away business from the beloved hot dog man who has been on their corner for more than 20 years.

There were similar complaints lodged by those fighting another newsstand on East 72nd Street near Third Avenue. They, too, complained about a commercial venture on their residential corner, and they also said they thought it would create unfair competition for a longtime merchant in the area. State News on Third Avenue has been serving the neighborhood for 30 years.

"A newsstand placed on a residential street, even one of the wide cross-streets of the Upper East Side, is not a compatible use," Michael Shaffet, chair of the board of 203 East 72nd St., wrote to CB 8 in July about their fight, which hasn’t yet been resolved.