Upcoming 10,000-Person Run-Walk Event Called Disruptive for Downtown

The American Heart Association Run & Heart Walk starts at Greenwich and Murray Streets; Greenwich will be closed from Vesey to Murray Streets from 5 to 8 p.m. for vehicles and 6:30 to 7 p.m. for pedestrians.

Feb. 25, 2019

Organizers of the American Heart Association’s upcoming 10,000-person Wall Street Run & Heart Walk should choose a different time or another route for its annual event. That is Community Board 1s position on the organization’s application to the city to close nine streets, most on a rolling basis, during rush hour on Thursday, May 16.

The streets would remain closed for varying lengths of time, from 43 minutes to three hours, according to the organization’s map.

The three-mile-long fundraiser, now in its 20th year, starts at Murray and Greenwich Streets and moves to the east side before heading south and looping around Battery Place to the Battery Park City esplanade, with the finish near the North Cove.

During the CB1 Transportation Committee’s review of the application earlier this month, committee member Marc Ameruso called the event “a nightmare.”

“Closing all the streets is just unacceptable,” he said. “It can’t happen anymore.”

Ameruso and other committee members said that the influx of residents and the amount of construction in Lower Manhattan makes weekday street closures for the event more disruptive than in earlier years.

“We have trouble with the Five Boro Bike Tour and that’s on Sundays,” said committee member Elizabeth Lewinsohn. “This is a whole other ball game because it’s during the week.”

“I still have PTSD from experiencing it last year,” complained Nick Silvers, a Tribeca resident who said he tried to drive from work to his son’s Little League practice at the Battery Park City ball fields, his car loaded with the team’s equipment. Traffic, he said, “was backed up on West Broadway practically to the tunnel.”

“I’ve never seen any other part of the city shut down during rush hour on a Thursday afternoon,” Silvers added. “It’s a nonprofit that I’m sure is doing incredible things, and I don’t want to feel guilty that I’m complaining about this. But the fact is there are other ways to do it.”

In its resolution last year, CB1 “reluctantly” advised approval of the permit, but called on the organization, in the future, to work on a traffic mitigation plan with the Police Department and ensure that people can get home and to work.

Lisa Brooks, senior producer for Eventage, the company that organizes the run/walk, said there have been no changes since last year.

“The NYPD still recommends this route,” Brooks said, speaking to the committee via conference call. “It’s the one that they’re still able to move traffic using West Street, using the tunnel, getting people around to the FDR Drive.”

Brooks acknowledged that the event can be disruptive, “but we are able to raise the money that we do because of the area of town that it’s in.

Organizers have a goal of raising $4.5 million.

Committee members suggested alternate routes, such as one that would include streets in the World Trade Center site already closed to traffic, or starting the race and ending it at the current finish line in Battery Park City, with no streets closed between Pearl and West.

While it appears likely that the event will go on as planned, CB1’s resolution calls for a discussion with the city Street Activities Permit Office and NYPD early on, “when there is still time to make changes.”

Reached by phone following the Transportation Committee meeting, Brooks declined to comment.