No matter what time of day you are in Union Square, you are bound to see a lot of activity: people walking to work; dancers, musicians and artists creating on the street; and visitors and tourists browsing the shops. But behind the scenes of what is visible to the eye lies a crucial network of people and programs that keep the area safe, secure and beautiful for all who pass through.
The person in charge of that network is Thomas DiRusso, the director of operations for the Union Square Partnership. As the Partnership’s liaison between the various networks that affect the neighborhood, DiRusso is the person whose work allows Union Square to operate smoothly.
In his role, DiRusso is in charge of the day-to-day activities in and around the square. He oversees the Partnership’s supplemental sanitation and public safety personnel, as well as its streetscape and beautification programs. One of DiRusso’s most important duties is developing strategies to improve quality of life in the Union Square-14th St. district in collaboration with local law enforcement partners from the Sixth, Ninth and 13th Precincts and Transit District 4, as well as city and state agencies.
DiRusso’s close coordination with this network of municipal employees and programs has allowed him to plan for additional services and supplies in view of Union Square’s increasing popularity over the last year.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in foot traffic in Union Square, so we’re in the process of preparing for a very busy summer,” DiRusso said. “With warmer weather on the way, there’s a lot more activity and communication between us and the Parks Department and our vendors, to make sure that everyone has what they need when the crowds come.”
Prior to joining the Partnership in 2014, DiRusso worked for four years with Lenox Hill Neighborhood House on the Upper East Side, handling facilities operation and security for the nonprofit institution. Prior to that, DiRusso was a 27-year member of the New York Police Department. He retired in 2011 as an inspector, and after having served in a number of high-profile positions, including as commanding officer of the 50th Precinct (Riverdale) and commanding officer of the Firearms Suppressive Division.
This June marks DiRusso’s one-year anniversary as director of operations for the Union Square Partnership.
“Tom’s role is critical to the operation of everything going on at Union Square,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership. “His knowledge of logistics and his background at the N.Y.P.D. have made him invaluable in maintaining our neighborhood, and making it a welcoming environment for everyone who spends time here.”