By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Bryant Park's noisy power generators may finally be unplugged once and for all.
The Bryant Park Corporation is in the process of securing permission to build a new on-site electrical station that would eliminate the need for renting generator trailers and running wires across walkways to power the park's annual winter ice skating rink and numerous other events.
Neighbors have long complained about the generators, which make a loud humming noise and take up space along Sixth Avenue whenever an event is planned.
"It's obnoxious. It's driving everybody crazy," said Craig LaCaruba, the vice president of capital projects at the park, who presented the plan to Midtown's Community Board 5's Parks Committee Monday night.
The generators are also unreliable, shorting when staff at the park's Southwest Porch turn on their heat lamps or start their popcorn machine, other staffers said.
"This takes us into the next century," LaCaruba said.
The plan calls for the construction of four four-by-eight foot vaults and a 1,500-square-foot "switch-gear room." All of the equipment would be housed underground near the corner of West 40th Street and Sixth Avenue, LaCaruba said.
LaCaruba said that the construction would have "only a superficial impact on the park." But the process won't be painless.
If approved, construction would begin in March, with crews working Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., through October. The project would require closing the park entrance closest to the digging, and would also require cutting down one 17-inch tree and temporarily relocating another, smaller one.
The corporation has the support of the Parks Department, but must still secure approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, LaCaruba said.
In addition to the new power station, the Bryant Park Corporation is also planning a major upgrade to make its Southwest Porch a permanent part of the park.
If approved the park would replace the current structure, buy new, more durable furniture and shrink the porch's footprint, making it fit in with the park better, staff said.