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Upper West Side Community Board Votes to Ban 'Decrepit' Newsracks

By Emily Frost | June 6, 2013 1:35pm | Updated on June 6, 2013 3:31pm
 The local Community Board is calling for the removal of all racks. 
Community Board Calls Racks Old News
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Local leaders fed up with plastic newsrack boxes they say clog and blight the neighborhood streets voted to ban them this week. 

Community Board 7's full board voted almost unanimously Tuesday for the city to immediately remove any newsracks in disrepair.

The boxes, clustered at street corners and filled with free newspapers and advertisements, often sit empty and are dirty, board members noted. 

"We're plagued with these newsracks," said board member Thomas Vitullo-Marti.

"They're almost universally decrepit, they're empty. I can think of [at least] 20 of these things around the entrance to The Belnord," he said of the apartment building.

Marc Glazer, the board member who has championed the movement to rid the streets of the racks, urged the board to seize the opportunity for the neighborhood to take the lead on an issue.

"Calling them newsracks has become a misnomer," said Glazer, who said they were "decaying, defaced and damaged." 

Others wondered if the newsracks were even necessary in the digital age. 

"New York City sidewalks have become a de facto advertising space," said resident Ian Alterman, referring to the loud signs and catalogues in and around the boxes. "Newsboxes should have to go the way of the dodo. Because you'd have to be a dodo to allow them to remain."

Still, board member Jay Adolf was skeptical of wiping out newsracks altogether.

"If we take away all the newsboxes, where would we get our news?" he asked.

Ken Coughlin, another board member, said free publications in the racks "add to the cultural life of the city."

The board called on the Department of Transportation, which is responsible for removing boxes, to immediately removes those in disrepair or disuse, while leaving those that are properly functioning on the street.

"We will review any proposal on this matter we receive from the Community Board," said Nicholas Mosquera, a spokesman for the DOT. 

Meanwhile, Glazer said the city could switch to so-called mulitracks — one stand that holds several different publications and is maintained and supplied by one company. Multiracks are already in use along parts of Madison Avenue.

"Madison Avenue and 34th Street don't have newsboxes like this," Vitullo-Marti said. "They're regulated. They're in a form that's more modern."