For decades, the marketing tagline “Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza” has lived up to its decadent double negative.
The French Renaissance chateau-style landmark has been the playground of the influential since it opened 106 years ago.
Now, it’s the battleground of a modern-day French revolution pitting the hotel’s wealthy residents against the pedaling masses.
The city won’t budge to demands by condo owners at the hotel for the removal of a Citi Bike rack near its entrance facing Fifth Avenue. A potential legal battle seemed headed to a peaceful resolution shortly after Plaza residents sued the city in October, but talks ended abruptly a few days ago.
The hotel argues the bike rack is an eyesore that gobbles up a lane of traffic and brings more congestion to the clogged area. Besides, the city failed to perform proper studies, the hotel’s attorney, Steve Sladkus, has said. The hotel, he insists, is not opposed to the city’s Citi Bike initiative.
Just not in the hotel’s front yard.
The city contends the rack for its nascent and popular bike-sharing program was installed properly and will hold up in court.
The bikes stay — for now.
The tug-of-war feeds the perception that some wealthy residents are suppressing the appetite of the public for the mode of transport du jour.
So, the bikes must all go, or they must all remain? These are false choices, of course. The solution lies somewhere in the middle.
The condo owners’ concerns over traffic are legitimate. The area is congested: pedestrians, cars, buses, taxis, horse carriages. And a block north is the city’s greatest tourist attraction — Central Park. That’s probably a major reason behind their apartment purchases: location, location, location.
The city is right to ensure the viability of an initiative bursting with interest. Some 95,000 people bought memberships in the program’s first 200 days, according to city figures. That’s a nice chunk of change.
The city and Plaza residents could agree to shorten the bike stand. That’s been done when residents in other tony hoods complained about bike racks.
The dispute is not unimportant, and neither is compromise.