Gridlock Sam Certifies Meatpacking Traffic Jam; Civic Group Seeks a Way Out

20070117meatpacking.jpg
The Meatpacking District in 2002. Photo: AP

The meatpacking district's nighttime revelers don't do much for area residents' peace of mind. The two groups would seem to be natural enemies, but last night the new Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project started seeking common ground to improve the neighborhood. The city plans to make Ninth Avenue one-way from 14th Street to 16th Street. So area stalwarts Jo Hamilton and Florent Morellet, the group's founders, hosted a design workshop at Robert Fulton Homes to discuss what accompanying streetscape improvements everybody can endorse. Former transportation commissioner (and current transportation guru) Sam Schwartz presented a study confirming Gansevoort Plaza is overflowing: It seems 72 percent of all taxis and black cars there on an average night are double-parked. Block-association veterans then joined nightlife impresarios like Lotus owner David Rabin to suggest ways to make things better. By summer, Schwartz will parlay the ideas (submit yours to greatergansevoort@verizon.net) into realistic targets. Then Hamilton and Morellet will convene more workshops to harmonize residents, merchants, and bureaucracies. Seems impossible? Maybe not. During the workshop, Hamilton flagged down a DOT liaison to thank her agency's "cobblestone task force" for upgrading the quaint corner of 13th and Washington. "We did?" the rep responded. Amazing the things you learn when people work together. —Alec Appelbaum