NEW YORK—For almost four years, Mohammad Abdullah supported his family of 12 back in Bangladesh thanks to his job as a street vendor in Washington Square Park. But starting Jan. 1, his cart will have to go, together with his income.
The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation won’t renew the contract with the park’s hot-dog vendors.
The Street Vendor Project (SVP), a vendor membership organization, held a small rally in the park on Dec. 8 to draw attention to the plight of the vendors, saying there are private interests behind the DPR’s decision.
Sean Basinski, director of the SVP, said the parks department didn’t explain to the vendors why they can’t stay. He believes the Washington Square Park Conservancy (WSPC), a local nonprofit, lobbied the parks department to do so.
The conservancy’s director, Sarah Neilson, is also the park’s administrator. Her position in the conservancy is unpaid.
Minutes from a conservancy meeting in March show “the possibility of new and different food vendors.” The minutes were part of an email correspondence of Sarah Neilson that Cathryn Swan, a local blogger, obtained through the Freedom of Information Law request and posted it on her blog.
A parks department spokesman said the contract with the vendors won’t be renewed to “ensure clear views of the fountain and arch and … to bring in a more diverse selection of food options,” according to a Dec. 1 New York Post article.