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Update November 6, 2014- As a direct result of BatteryPark.TV action, the Tunnel to Towers group agreed to not have liquor served at the 2015 event.
September 28, 2014- The “Tunnel to Towers” events has been allowed to occupy and shut down all of Vesey Street every year for more than a decade. The event started at a time when Downtown was emptied out by the bombing of the WTC’s, and before numerous residential buildings on North End Avenue were built.
However, over the last several years, Vesey Street and North End Ave have dramatically changed. Large restaurants now occupy the storefronts. People live in 2 River Terrace. The Conrad Hotel has opened.
The Tunnel to Tower event has been allowed to sprawl around and also close down North End Avenue. The events that take place on North End Ave are unessential and greatly impair the ability of the Conrad Hotel to function. The barbecue smoke billows over to the North End Grill restaurants. The noise bothers residents across the street.
Making matters worse, the organizers of the Tunnel Tower act as if they own the place. They were visiting the restaurants ahead of the event this year urging them to not even open on Sunday, which would have meant the loss of $10,000 or more per restaurant.
The restaurants defied the organizers, but their business was way off. The outdoor seating was empty at El Vez and few people from the crowd translated into guests since there was ample food and beer sold on the street.
The residents of Battery Park City are also greatly affected by the complete closure of Vesey Street. The organizers this year set up chain link fences making it impossible to exit the Brookfield Place detour.
However, there is an easy solution to this problem. The esplanade by the marina is capable of hosting events with large stages, and does so several times a year for the Tribeca Film Festival and Jazz Festival. The American Heart Association holds an event larger than the Tunnel to Towers on the esplanade.
The Tunnel to Tower event should be relocated to the esplanade, just like the other events. Or, perhaps an even better solution would be to host the event at the park surrounding the 9/11 memorial. That would be far more fitting.