Specter of 5,000 People Assembling in BPC for Run/Walk Raises Concerns

For the past four years, the run/walk, like this one in 2016, has started on Pier 26 in Tribeca. Photo: 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Feb. 12, 2018

Good intentions are not enough when thousands of people want to assemble in your neighborhood early on a Sunday morning.

That was the message to officials of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, who came to Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee last week with news that this year’s annual 5k run/walk would start near them.

The museum’s major fundraiser, featuring up to 5,000 participants, cannot begin in its usual location, Pier 26 in Tribeca, due to construction. So on April 22 the sixth annual run/walk will commence outside of P.J. Clark’s on the north side of Battery Park City’s North Cove, Christine Huus, the museum’s senior vice president of special events, told the committee. Line-up begins at 7:50 a.m. and at 8 they are off, heading north along the esplanade before doubling back at Pier 26 and finishing near the museum, she said.

The committee has no veto over the plans, but Huus got an earful from those who complained about potential disruptions, especially to Gateway Plaza, the residential complex adjacent to the south end of North Cove.

“As the chair of the committee, I have concerns about this because you’re smack in the middle of the neighborhood on Sunday morning,” said Tammy Meltzer.

Committee member Elizabeth Goody, who lives in north Battery Park City, called the run/walk “very intrusive,” especially for families with children. “On an early Sunday morning what do you do? You need to get outside,” she said. “My concern is just how much space is being taken up in Rockefeller Park.”

“I do support the whole 9/11 concept,” Goody added, “but everybody tries to plop their event down in that park, thinking, ‘Oh, there’s a ton of space. It must be like Central Park.’ No, it is not that big.”

“Anywhere we go there’s going to be an impact,” responded Huus, who said the decision was made after six months of mapping out possible alternate routes, especially one that avoids closing streets and towing cars. She said there would be no music and amplified sound would be limited to directing participants to their pens, which is done in waves.

The museum’s plan also had its defenders. Committee member Jeff Mihok called the Battery Park City neighborhood “already quiet enough, provincial enough.”

“We live in New York City, which is a very vibrant and loud place and this is not just like any walk or run, this is a walk and run to keep history alive in a way,” he said.

“There are times I feel very overwhelmed by the number of races and public events that happen in this community,” added Kathleen Gupta, also a committee member. “But if there are any two that we really should work with it’s this and Tunnel to Towers because we’re so integrally involved with that.”

Meltzer implored Huus to figure out a way, in 2019, to start the race on Memorial or Oculus property. On Sunday mornings, she said, “It’s dead. There’s not a thing going on down there.”

“I will tell you honestly,” Huus responded, “that we will look at that for next year.”