”Occupy Wall Street” protesters may be sleeping in Zuccotti Park, but some business owners in Lower Manhattan are the ones growing restless thanks to the population glut and concerns over the area’s upkeep. NY1’s Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
The "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators protest, hang out and sleep in Zuccotti Park, where they’ve lived for three weeks.
"I think the greed banks and multinational corporations is obscene," said one protester.
"I would like to see public finance of all campaigns," said another.
"I just want to have some change," said a third.
While their presence is heard around the world, this occupation, which might also be considered a commune or even a party, has a local impact.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the protests have cost the department nearly $2 million in overtime, for example.
On the other hand, some neighborhood food stands are benefitting.
"People here, the business a little up,” said one food stand worker.
Others businesses aren't so happy.
Stacey Tzortzas, the owner of Panini Company Café, said the protest is driving away her regulars. That business dropped 30 percent, and there are more basic problems.
"Protesters come in demanding to use the facilities to bathe. They spend hours in there just bathing. They destroyed the bathrooms," said Tzortzas.
Some residents have been upset over the noise, but the community board finds the protesters responsive.
"They were absolutely willing to have this noise policy where they basically stop any music or loud noise at 10 at night," said Julie Menin, Community Board 1 chair.
"We support their right to demonstrate,” said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin. “But we just want the protesters also be mindful that in that area we also have a lot of residents."
The owner of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Properties, has to keep it open 24 hours a day because of a zoning agreement with the city, but company representatives say demonstrators are breaking bans on tents, tarps and sleeping bags.
In a statement, a Brookfield rep wrote, "Many of the protesters refuse to cooperate by adhering to the rules… the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16, and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels."
Asked if it had or would file a lawsuit, Brookfield offered no comment, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg is riding the fence.
"If the protesters, however, leave Zuccotti Park, the question is will they disband or go someplace else. From a practical point of view, I think we want to let some of this, not play out is quite the right word, but let them express themselves," said Bloomberg.
Protesters said they're staying. Opponents, if they want them to leave, may have to wait until winter to freeze them out. That’s not about to happen, though, as pleasant weather is expected all weekend long.