By Molly Sugarman
The good news: The ballfields south of the 79th Street Rotunda will remain open throughout the 48 months of construction on the Rotunda. The bad news: Pedestrian access south of 79th Street will be closed and, for 60 days, so will the southbound off-ramp from the Henry Hudson Parkway.
The Rotunda, one of the treasures of Riverside Park, is a multi-level structure built in 1936 as both a pedestrian plaza — on the middle level, and as a traffic circle — top level, to take cars to and from the Henry Hudson Parkway from 79th Street. Its third level is a parking area under the Rotunda for those using the nearby boat basin.
Until now, the Rotunda has never been rehabilitated, although it has been heavily used. It now carries cars, pedestrians, and bicycles. The project has begun, and is being done at the same time as the 79th Street Boat Basin is being upgraded, but the two are separate projects.
At a Community Board (CB)7 Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday night, representatives from the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) offered a detailed presentation about the $150-million, 4-year remake of the Rotunda, showing the location of temporary trailers and construction staging areas. These will also require the closure of two ramps used to access parking under the Rotunda.
Some of the changes resulting from the renovation are already in place, including rerouting the M79 bus, which can no longer use the upper level of the Rotunda as a turn-around. Instead, the bus’s last stop is at West End Avenue and 79th, not Riverside. The buses then go down Riverside to 72nd, up 72nd to West End Ave. and back to 79th. No new stops will be added, but Department of Transportation spokesperson Joannene Kidder indicated that, at the end of the line, the bus drivers will allow passengers to stay on the bus until Riverside Drive.
The Committee was not entirely happy with DOT’s plan. Committee Member Mark Diller wondered if DOT had even looked at the unanimous resolution previously passed by the board, asking for adherence to historic detail in the final construction, as well as the protection of cyclists.
Committee members Ken Coughlin and Howard Yaruss reminded Kidder of the Board’s request for a separate bike lane or physical barriers between cars coming off the Henry Hudson Parkways and cyclists. The plan is, several committee members indicated, an accident waiting to happen.
Kidder responded that the suggestions of the Board were considered, and the current plan was deemed the most feasible.
The plan does include protecting birds from flying into harm, she pointed out. As Yaruss summed it up, “DOT protected the birds but not the cyclists.”
Committee Co-Chair Andrew Albert was also concerned about the “bedlam” on the 95/96th Street connections to the Henry Hudson, especially during the 60 days when one off-ramp at 79th will be closed. Kidder assured him that DOT will provide additional traffic agents and adjust signal timing.
DOT has assigned a full-time community liaison to the project, Kaitlin Magee, who can be reached at:
Please include project # HBM-1189
The Committee also considered a resolution to bring back twice-a-week street sweeping, due to excessive trash accumulation.
But the reasoning of Transportation Committee Member Rich Robbins changed the proposed resolution to one calling for more enforcement of alternate-side parking rules and escalating fines for those who don’t move their cars when the street sweepers are due.
Currently, Committee Member Coughlin said, the price of a fine is less than the price of a parking garage, so people don’t bother to move their cars, even when asked. The result is unswept streets on which trash is accumulating, bringing rats as well as unsightliness.
He proposed a return to the twice-a-week schedule, as well as implementing escalating fines for repeat offenders. But Robbins pointed out that the cost in air pollution as drivers circled the block or sat in idling cars more than offset the trash, and that if congestion pricing is approved, circling the block and traffic — as well as air pollution — will increase even more.
The consensus was, however, that the Upper West Side is trashier than ever, on both streets and sidewalks, due to a lack of enforcement. “Where are all the enforcement people who were there before the pandemic?” Committee Member Madge Rosenberg asked. “The garbage under the cars is disgraceful. Rats are living under the cars.”
Committee Member Erana Stennett took it beyond the streets, pointing out that the sidewalks were also trashed. She had the photos to prove it. Committee Member Jay Adolf said that if a larger financial burden was put on those parking cars, then restaurant owners should also bear the burden of cleaning the areas around their street sheds.
Those members of the public who spoke agreed, noting that six or seven weeks go by without a street sweeper coming by, even if people do move their cars.
In the end, the committee agreed that twice-a-week sweeping wasn’t necessary, but consistent, once-a-week cleaning was, with higher fines and better enforcement of alternate-side rules. And that is what they resolved.
They need to crack down on the numerous street vendors who think it’s ok to park their vehicles in back of their stand (without paying for parking) and not move them for the street sweepers. These vehicles take up parking spots that are needed by paying vehicles especially given that so many parking spots have been lost.
Do we have any idea when the rotunda reno is happening and the 79th Street Henry Hudson offramp will be closed?
First we must keep buildings from blowing the trash off the sidewalk, with leaf blowers, into the street. Most buildings do not pick up their trash since the advent of the battery powered leaf blower, best friend of supers on the UWS to blow all the trash off the sidewalk into street right under the cars for the rats to live in. Lets us go to the root of the problem and pick up our trash citizens of the UWS.
Now weeks after the last significant snowfall there is still dirty snow at the curbs and under cars that never move and if they do move there is no time to get the snow removed.
Enough with this one day a week street cleaning nonsense. Put alternate side of the street parking back to two days a week and enforce the rules with fines.
Can parking tickets be tied to license plates and computerized? I assume if they can do that when people skip tolls they can do it for parking? Each incremental one costs someone more. And tickets for non-NY plates should be higher. Seems like a no-brainer?
Also, I agree with others that info on when the 79th St ramp will be closed would be helpful. Otherwise a very helpful article – thanks!
How about we just charge parking tickets to a car’s EZ Pass account? Then it’s either pay or close out your EZ Pass account. There’s an idea.
“How about we just charge parking tickets to a car’s EZ Pass account?”
Umm…what about that whole Sixth Amendment thing where we have a right to a trial before being convicted?
Parking tickets have been tied to plates and computerized for decades. Indeed, a car with a “fresh” plate can be tied to a commonly owned one or an old plate with lots of unpaid tickets.
With the lack of a tow pound in Manhattan the act of towing a scofflaw is much more time consuming and expensive.
Restaurant street sheds are generating lots of garbage and rats – and it will get worse as the weather gets better.
To-go cocktails will also mean a lot of plastic cups.
Depressing to see trash cans overflowing with Starbucks cups, water bottles, pizza boxes etc – as if no one could walk a block and find an emptier bin.
Hard to believe folks really care about climate change.
I’ve been confused by the rerouting of the M79 bus.
When the construction is over, will the bus resume the normal route – ending at Riverside and doing the turnaround at the Rotunda?
You won’t be riding that bus round that rotunda for another 4 years doe
Where can we see the latest DOT plan for the rotunda?
One thing that seems unclear is whether the request for more protection for bikes applies to the part of the Greenway that skirts the west side of the traffic circle or the whole circle.
Here’s the problem: If the whole thing then a separate level has to be devoted to bikes, because there’s no way that a rider entering or exiting the Greenway on 79th isn’t going to ride across the vehicle off or on ramp (which has a stop sign anyway).
And if it’s the Greenway on the west side then how does a rider entering or exiting at 79th get across a barrier separating the bike lane from car lanes?
1. Replace garbage receptacles on all four corners of the cross steeets. Now there are only two per intersection and they are usually overflowing.
2. Buildings are required to clean their sidewalks and not just push rubbish to the street. If the city is not cleaning the streets, buildings must clean the sidewalk and pick it up.
3. Bring back two days of streetcleaning provided the sweepers actually come and cars are required to move.
4. Create a parking permit plan for residents. Charge a reasonable fee. This will help to encourage car,owners that they can move their cars and have a chance of getting a parking spot.
Dirty sidewalks and streets are an invitation for more garbage.
This is not rocket science. People need to take responsibility if they want results.
There is nearly infinite demand for resident parking permits. There will ALWAYS be more cars than spots. It is called induced demand. Cheap permits will just increase car ownership and pull people out of garages. The only way to actually reduce the number of cars and thus make parking easier would be to charge over $400 or $500/month for a “resident permit”.
“The Rotunda, one of the treasures of Riverside Park”. Who said? It was built in an era when there were hardly any cars and the ones that existed weigh half as much as the current ones and had a top speed of maybe 50mph and whose acceleration was a joke. It was built by a car-centric guy named Robert Moses. So why are we spending money to fix it up. Maybe it should be demolished and if we want something think of what we want and not just to fix up what we have. This is laziness.
Sidewalks and gutters for a number of feet into the street, are supposed to be kept clean by the buildings and the store owners that front the sidewalk. This is supposed to be enforced by the Dept Of Sanitation. Don’t blame the parked cars, they’re responsible for a bunch of other stuff.
18” from the curb into the street for residential and commercial. tickets can only be written within two specific hours (one in the morning and one in the evening) depending on location.
Commercial property owners must clean the sidewalks adjoining their property and 18 inches from the curb into the street.
Enforcement times are limited to two 1-hour periods per day and vary according to which Sanitation section the address is located in.
Most businesses normally closed on Saturdays or Sundays are exempt from enforcement on those days. Any businesses closed for an extended period must make arrangements to have the area maintained. Storefronts that are part of a large residential building may be subject to residential enforcement routing rules.
Use the Collection Schedule Lookup to get enforcement routing times for a specific address.
Yes. Rules are:
NYC Department of Sanitation
STREETS and SIDEWALKS Cleaning Rules
Sidewalks and Gutters
The sidewalks (including areas like tree pits, grass strips, etc .) and gutter areas (18 inches from the curb into the street) along the building perimeter must be kept clean . Sweepings must be picked up and deposited in suitable containers for collection . Sanitation litter baskets may not be used for this purpose .
Interfering with Sanitation Department Work
DSNY employees may not be obstructed when they are sweeping or cleaning a street, or removing ashes, garbage, rubbish (including recycling), snow, or ice .
§16-118(7) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .FINE: . . . . . $100 – $300
I do not participate in this, but I see it every week. On the day that the street sweeper is to come during the designated time window, the car owners go and sit in their car. They won’t be ticketed if they are sitting there. And week after week they sit there without the street sweeper showing up. Why are our citizens put through this meaningless routine which wastes their time? If the street sweeper is really only going to come once a month then that ought to be on a schedule which is disclosed, so that our people are not obliged to sit there without any purpose other than to avoid being fined. Certainly, our politicians can show some savvy and cause this change to be made. And if there really is a plan to have the street swept regularly and they actually perform what they are supposed to do, then fine. But that is simply not what is happening.
Here is what may be a workable solution – but not a perfect one (no such thing) — to a lot of street debris.
And this is a serious proposal, not a joke. Consider it before laughing it off:
Maintain once a week alternate side parking/street cleaning.
In the first half hour, street parkers are required to clean the area underneath and around their cars. Yes, they will have to keep a broom, something like a dust pan, and a few 13 gallon garbage bags in the trunk of their cars.
After this half hour, a garbage truck comes by to remove the bags left on the street side of the cars or which are handed to the workers by the street parkers. The traditional street sweeper can then come by at any time to clean the rest of the street.
And, yes, if you see that the person parked in front or in back of you will have trouble with the sweeping, it will be your pleasure and responsibility to help them.
Advantages: reduces pollution from cars circling, builds community, guarantees the area around parked cars is swept once a week.
You don’t comply: You are ticketed.
Can I laugh now? I can’t hold it in any longer.
Is it also funny that people are required to sweep up in front of their stores and buildings?
Estimate of the rotunda renovation is $150 million. By the end cost will likely be 4X or $600Million
Who is responsible for clearing snow in front of vacant stores? Failure to remove show can result in dangerous to pedestrians.
According to the NYC Administrative Code, every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, in back of) to their properties.
How long do I have to clean the sidewalk?
If the snow stops falling between:
• 7:00 a.m. and 4:49 p.m. – you must clear within four hours
• 5:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. – you must clear within fourteen hours
Example: If the snow stops falling at 7:00 p.m., the owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person
in charge of any lot or building has until 9:00 a.m. the following morning to clear.
• 9:00 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. – you must clear by 11:00 a.m. the next day
More like 9 months without the street sweeper coming down the block!