Road Runners’ half marathon draws B.P.C. ire


BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

The plans for a half marathon that is scheduled to bring 10,000 runners plus spectators and support personnel into Battery Park City on March 20 met a chilly reception from Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee at its monthly meeting on February 1. The event, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by New York Road Runners.

“While I think the Half Marathon is wonderful and the Road Runners do a great job, this is not something I would support,” said committee member Anthony Notaro. “I would recommend that this committee turn this down.” This view was echoed by others on the committee.

As it did last year, the course for the race will start in Central Park and then go through Times Square and 42nd Street, where the runners will head to West Street and a finish line just north of Chambers Street. Then the runners are slated to head west on Chambers Street into Battery Park City. They would be directed to River Terrace, and from there to North Cove, where there would be post-race ceremonies and refreshments.

Preparations for the Battery Park City segment of the race would begin on Friday night, March 18, when some equipment would be installed along North End Avenue. “No parking” signs would go up on North End Avenue, Chambers Street between West Street and River Terrace and on River Terrace starting at midnight on Saturday, March 19. The streets would not reopen until 5 p.m. on March 20. Cars would be towed from North End Avenue beginning at 10 a.m. on March 19, from Chambers Street beginning at noon, and from River Terrace beginning at 1 p.m.

“You are literally closing off that entire neighborhood,” said Notaro to Philip Santora, N.Y.R.R.’s Senior Manager for Volunteers and Community Outreach, who presented the Road Runners’ race plans to the Battery Park City Committee.

Santora said that people from New York Road Runners would come down to the neighborhood prior to the event to let residents know what would be happening.

“Notice is better than no notice,” said committee co-chair Jeff Galloway, “but basically all that does is let people know that they should evacuate their homes for the weekend.”

Because the Half Marathon goes through several neighborhoods and the jurisdictions of Community Boards 4 and 5 as well as that of Community Board 1, New York Road Runners was not required to get approval for its plans from any of these community boards. Santora’s presentation was strictly informational. Approvals for the race were arranged by Road Runners with the Mayor’s Office for Special Events, with the N.Y.P.D. and with other City agencies.

B.P.C. Committee member George Calderaro, who lives in the northern part of Battery Park City, said in a telephone interview that he heard anguished complaints last year from Battery Park City residents, who said that their lives and tranquility had been disrupted by the half marathon. “Our comments last year that this shouldn’t happen again went unheeded,” said Calderaro. “[Road Runners] did come to the meeting, which is good, I guess – just to say that they’re going to do the same thing all over again.”

Calderaro said that he questioned the reason for the race. “This is not like the Lupus Walk, for example, where 100 percent of the proceeds go to the charity,” he said. “I’m pretty sure there will be vitamin drinks and commercial sponsors of this run.”

Several Battery Park City Committee members wondered why the walk-off for the race had to go through Battery Park City. Committee member Bill Love suggested that the runners just head north when the race ended, with post-race events on Pier 25 or Pier 40.

In a telephone interview, Peter Ciaccia, Senior Vice President of Event Development and Production for New York Road Runners, said that would not be an option. He said that runners would be coming down West Street, whose southbound lanes will be closed off for the race. If runners who had finished headed north to the Hudson River Park piers, the two groups would intersect.

Ciaccia said that the Half Marathon would be good for Battery Park City businesses. “Our business team is working with various restaurants. We recommend that the runners go to one of these restaurants. The businesses appreciate it,” he said.

Although Philip Santora is scheduled to appear before the Battery Park City Committee again on March 1 for further discussion about the race, Ciaccia indicated that nothing could be changed at this point.

“We have to work very closely with the City agencies on this because it affects much more than just one area,” Ciaccia said. “To move the finish line would be a little difficult. But we are certainly not against looking at other options. To say today that we can make that change might be a little difficult. But we are exploring some other options for the New York City Half Marathon at future dates.”