PEP’s Pride-proof piers and patrol park for bikes

By Lincoln Anderson

The only part of the Greenwich Village segment of Hudson River Park that was open on Sunday, the day of the Gay Pride march, was the esplanade. Lawns were roped off and guarded by Park Enforcement Patrol officers; the Christopher St. and Charles St. piers were blocked by metal barricades manned by PEP’s; blue plastic storm fencing was strung in front of the park’s planted areas. People were allowed through the barriers onto the pier, however, if they were going to use New York Water Taxi.

Chris Martin, a spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust, said the protective measures were put in place last year, too. Two summers ago, the park and piers had been left open and the pier had been damaged and there were also crowd control issues on the pier, he said.

In other PEP news, after Saturday’s rally against the Washington Square renovation plan, Sergeant Lee Addison stopped a young man bicycling through the park, who continued to talk on his cellphone as Addison tried to address him. As Addison informed him he’d be getting a summons, the man suddenly biked off. Addison grabbed his rear bike rack and tried to hold on, but only came away with the man’s bike chain lock in his hand, as the man made his getaway.

Addison explained he was going to give him a $50 summons for riding in the park; but if he had caught the man after he tried to flee, he would have hit him with criminal misdemeanor summons for failure to comply/disorderly conduct. PEP officers have full police powers, Addison explained. “They don’t realize I’m a police officer,” he said. “It’s just that I don’t carry [a gun] and the color of my uniform.” Addison then walked over to tell another bicyclist to dismount, but didn’t issue a summons, and let him go on his way.

Asked if the first man’s rudely talking on his cellphone had been a factor in why Addison was going to issue him a summons, he indicated it was. “Obnoxious is one thing,” he said, noting a big part of a PEP’s job is patience in the face of obnoxiousness. “But disrespect is another thing.” Some people from the rally protested there are no signs posted saying biking is prohibited in the park. Addison said there are. He gives people a break if they genuinely seem unaware of the rule. But repeat offenders will be fined, he warned. “The summer is here so you have to step up enforcement,” he said. “The idea is to keep the park safe for everyone.”