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Plan to Hold Festivals on Quiet Chelsea Streets Upsets Residents

By Mathew Katz | March 5, 2013 6:42am
 The city plans to continue a policy of moving festivals from major streets in Chelsea this summer.
The city plans to continue a policy of moving festivals from major streets in Chelsea this summer.
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Ninth Avenue Association

CHELSEA — The city plans to continue moving Chelsea's street fairs from busy thoroughfares to smaller, residential streets this summer despite growing ire from the community.

The decision, made by the city's Street Activity Permit Office, moved popular summer street fairs away from West 14th Street to West 15th Street, according to locals.

Community Board 4 plans to express its concern about the new policy in a letter to the city that will be voted on at the board's Wednesday meeting.

"We cannot support moving events from major streets and avenues on to minor residential streets," the letter said.

Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said the policy was meant to alleviate street festivals' impact on major streets and would continue this year.

"Street fairs on 14th Street and 23rd Street were relocated to nearby streets in an effort to alleviate the significant impact closing these highly transited streets had on crosstown traffic," she said.

The policy was implemented last year and will remain in effect for the 2013 season.

The fairs on West 15th Street brought pollution, noise and smoke to the residential area of the street, according to the West Fifteenth Street Block Association. The problem came to a head during last August's Feria del Sol Mexican culture festival.

"Residents were sickened on that hot August day by the inescapable air pollution filling their narrow residential street from the many charcoal fires burning animal fats, the spillage of the resulting grease onto the streets, a portable brick pizza oven generating smoke, a couple of diesel fuel-burning catering trucks, loud diesel fuel-burning air compressors running unused children's slides, etc," the CB4 letter goes on to say. 

Joel Magallan, executive director of Asociacion Tepeyac de New York, said plans were still up in the air for this year's festival.

"We still don't have a date or location," he said.