By F. Seidenbaum
I challenge Villagers to walk on Waverly Place from 7th Avenue to Christopher Street any Friday or Saturday night from 10 pm until after 1 am. Then to consider what it’s like living nearby: the outdoor shouting, screaming, chanting, singing, by groups and individuals, invade residents’ apartments; the area becomes a giant, party scene and, even in upper rear apartments with closed windows, these sounds intrude and pervade, disturbing peace, work and sleep.
Despite having such a major impact on local residents’ lives, Jeffrey’s and Morandi have closed Waverly Place, without input from them.
Jeffrey’s closes Waverly between Christopher and West 10th Streets from 10 am Thursdays through late Sunday nights. Morandi’s closes Waverly between 7th Avenue and Tenth Street on weekends.
They now propose extending these closures to 7 days a week from 10 am until midnight. Interestingly, when they presented an almost identical proposal to Community Board 2 a few years ago, it was rejected by the Board because of the negative impact on residents and traffic. Now they’re trying to use the pandemic as an excuse to do this.
This area used to pride itself on being peaceful and residential. The few bars and restaurants here exhorted patrons to be quiet outside their establishments out of respect for neighbors. That changed completely when some restaurants and bars gained outdoor space; now, the blocks teem with crowds. Other impacts include rats and litter. Another serious problem is that, when outdoor tables and chairs fill streets, they, and the crowds congregating near them create an obstacle course (and are sometimes impassable) for people in wheelchairs or using walkers or canes.
Open Streets already closes Christopher Street between Waverly and 7th Avenue on weekends. Since Christopher is the main East-West thoroughfare between 14th and Houston Streets, this backs up regular traffic. Weekend congestion, already a problem, has become much worse since Waverly Place was closed, and the 8th Street Crosstown bus must detour.
Closing Waverly for outdoor seating also makes access to buildings on those blocks impossible, not just for mail and delivery trucks, but also for ambulances, Access-a-Ride, and taxis.
Though NYC regulations prohibit loud noise after 11 pm weeknights and 1 am weekends, enforcement has been non-existent. This situation has become even more difficult since Mayor DiBlasio eliminated curfews and extended Open Streets for a year.
What’s especially incredible is that the community was never consulted, nor involved in these Waverly Place closure decisions, even though they profoundly affect local residents.
We understand that restaurants have suffered and needed help to survive pandemic restrictions, but in May those restrictions were eased and will end this summer.
Though closing Waverly Place may benefit a few restaurants, it damages the quality of life of most of their neighbors immensely. Those residents deserve to be heard, and the negative impact on their quality of life alleviated.