DYKER HEIGHTS — Councilmember Justin Brannan held an inter-agency strategy session in the wake of the City Council passage of his bill to ban vendors from the famous Dyker Heights Christmas lights display and said he came away from the meeting confident that officials are all on the same page when it comes to public safety.
Brannan huddled with NYPD officials, representatives from various city agencies, Community Board 10 leaders and local stakeholders at the community’s board’s office on Nov. 21 to discuss planning for the neighborhood’s busy time, which begins Thanksgiving weekend and lasts until New Year’s Day.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes was also in attendance at the strategy session.
Since he took office, Brannan, a Democrat representing Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge and parts of Bensonhurst, has organized monthly meetings with city officials to map out a plan to increase safety in the neighborhood during the holiday season.
Brannan’s bill, which the Council passed unanimously on Oct. 17, bans food vendors and other sidewalk sales people from setting up shop from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day in the prime Christmas lights viewing area: 10th Avenue to 13th Avenue between 81st Street and 86th Street.
The goal of the vendor ban is to cut down on traffic, noise pollution and litter, according to Brannan and other officials.
“I believe our new law to ban vending in this area will go a long way. NYPD has a traffic plan to handle the big tour buses. Department of Sanitation is ready with more basket pick-ups. FDNY is ready. All the agencies have a plan. We will monitor the event every night and make tweaks as needed. We just want everyone to have fun and be safe. That’s all that matters,” Brannan told the Home Reporter.
Capt. Robert Conwell, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, told residents at a Dyker Heights Civic Association meeting on Nov. 12 that the vendor ban should have a positive effect. “I do expect the new law to help,” he said.
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights display, also known as Dyker Lights, features dozens of homes whose owners decorate their front lawns with twinkling lights, giant Santas, dancing reindeer, enormous “Nutcracker Suite” figures, snowflakes and angels. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, including tourists who arrive on tour buses.
The extravaganza has grown so popular that tour operators offer private jaunts through the neighborhood for prices as high as $399.
But along with the festive lights show there are traffic jams, noise and lots of trash, residents said. Tourists buy food and beverages from vendors and then toss the food wrappings, cans and bottles on the ground, Brannan said.
Officials are hopeful a big part of the problem has been solved.
“We are covering all the bases to make this event as enjoyable as possible, not just for the tourists who come from around the world but for the people who call Dyker Heights home the other 11 months a year. As the Dyker lights get bigger and bigger, we are going to do everything we can to make sure it is safe and as orderly as possible,” Brannan said.
Gounardes pledged his support. “My office is working closely with everyone to make sure we manage the unique chaos of this special holiday event,” he said.