The Parks Department is trying to bring more gourmet food vendors to NYC parks, in order to offer an alternative to pretzels and dirty water dogs—but the Manhattan community board that includes the Upper East Side WON’T STAND FOR IT. Last week the board voted to reject a proposal that would install specialty food carts at two locations in Central Park: at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, and 80th Street and Central Park West. The co-chair of the Parks Committee, Peggy Price, recently explained why; she doesn’t hate the food, she hates the aesthetics.
“The issue has to do with the visual blight,” Price tells Our Town. “They’re not just the cute little outdoor stands that people are familiar with; they’re big bulky structures that have designs on them. [There’s] the possibility of using techniques for cooking that could be polluting if not noisy. They’re quite obtrusive, they don’t blend with the environment and they could certainly have the potential of being harmful.”
Sean Basinski of The Street Vendor Project says it’s up to the Parks Department to pick appropriate spots for food trucks. “The only wrinkles with the new trucks are usually parking (since they use parking spaces) and, sometimes, engine idling (although most trucks run generators to power their equipment, not their engines),” says Basinski. For now, the Parks Department is determined to go ahead and introduce the new food options, despite the Community Board’s disapproval.
Well, you can’t please all the people all the time, and let’s face it: New Yorkers have been bitching about street food vendors for years—over a hundred years, to be exact.