By Carol Tannenhauser
It is going forward — quietly and despite fierce opposition from Community Board 7 and the neighborhood, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is finalizing plans for a “deliverista hub” to be located on a public plaza between 71st and 72nd Streets on Broadway, just south of the 72nd Street subway station. Though it is designated as parkland, all that is there now is an abandoned newsstand.
“As per Manhattan Parks, the plan to place an e-bike charging hub at West 71st Street is proceeding,” City Councilmember Gale Brewer’s chief of staff confirmed in an October 20th email to the co-chairs of CB7’s Parks & Environment Committee, which the Rag obtained. “The draft design and operating plans are still being developed and will be presented to CB7 when ready. That timing is unclear and it appears that the City Hall located site is proceeding first (though not confirmed).”
This news comes after about 300 community residents attended a Valentine’s Day CB 7 Parks & Recreation Committee meeting, 86% of them testifying against the plan. Additionally, over 200 similarly negative written comments were submitted by email. Almost all were in favor of hubs, just not there.
“This location, at the nexus of three subway lines, five bus lines, and a neighborhood heavily populated with commercial and residential buildings is wholly inappropriate for this facility,” said Natasha Kazmi, co-chair of CB 7’s Parks & Environment Committee, summarizing the community’s arguments.
But the location fits the city’s bill perfectly. The “Street Deliverista Hubs” pilot program aims to “transform existing city infrastructure, like vacant newsstands, into hubs that allow app-based delivery workers time to rest and recharge during their hectic days,” according to a statement from Mayor Eric Adams. “The renovation of select underutilized structures will offer these essential workers shelter from the elements, space to charge electronics [including e-bikes], and provide bike repair services.” The Upper West Side location is one of three proposed for deliverista hubs, the others are near City Hall and in the Bronx. The pilot program is funded with help from a $1 million federal grant facilitated by New York Senator Charles Schumer.
WSR has reached out to the NYC Parks Department multiple times for comment. We will update when and if they respond.
UPDATE: October 24, 6:30 p.m.
WSR sent the following questions to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation regarding the 71st Street deliverista hub:
- Did the widespread opposition of the community to that specific location for a hub influence the Parks Department at all? What is the purpose of testifying in front of the community board or writing letters to it if they, seemingly, have no effect?
- What is the process the hub will go through now, what agencies must review it?
- When will the plans be presented to the Community Board?
- When will construction on the hub begin?
The Parks Department sent the following statement in response:
“We’re proud to be part of a creative, first-of-its-kind effort to support app-based delivery workers and use our public spaces in a new way. Parks is committed to ensuring these spaces are well-maintained, and safety is our top priority. We are continuing to work on the design for the planned Deliverista Hubs and look forward to presenting a completed design to the Community Board.”
After the Community Board weighs in, the design will be subject to approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).
If West-Park Presbyterian Church’s experience with the LPC is typical, the hubs have a long road ahead.
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