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Cooper Square Food Vendors Rejected by Community Board

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — Neighbors want the kitchen closed in Cooper Square.

The local community board worries that any food vendors in Cooper Square Park would turn the to-be-redesigned open space into an overcrowded nightlife hub.

Community Board 3's parks committee voted on a resolution Thursday against any efforts by the city to install a food vendor inside the park, the triangular space where Third and Fourth avenues converge.

The entire area, including Astor Place just to the north, will undergo a massive redesign expected to begin next year that will increase the amount of pedestrian space, including an enlargement of Peter Cooper Park with wider sidewalks, additional public seating and plantings.

Susan Stetzer, CB 3's district manager, said she wanted the board to take preemptive action after hearing rumblings from the city about possibly attracting vendors to the park.

"There would be consequences," she said, noting that the board has opposed food vendors in the past because they present competition to neighborhood small businesses.

The board previously expressed concerns over how the park's redesign — which includes widened sidewalks and added seating open to the public at all hours — could encourage rowdy or drunken behavior by bar-goers in the area.

"I have visions of Astor Place turning into the Meat Market," said committee member Carolyn Ratcliffe. "We want more public space, but we don't want the area turning into a zoo."

The park also has a rodent problem that would be exacerbated by any food concessions in the area, the committee added.

Stetzer noted that the Cooper Union, with its new academic building located directly across the street from the park, could be the one to respond to any future request for proposals to help offset maintenance costs for helping manage the park.

However, an official from the college said it's too early to say whether the school would consider that option.

With still more than a year remaining until renovations begin, Stetzer said the board taking a stand early "will influence [the city] greatly."

"We have an absolute right to say we don't want concessions," she said.