Parking scofflaws, rejoice! NYC shuts down truck-filled tow pound

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Parking scofflaws are ringing in the New Year with the joyous news that the de Blasio administration has shut down all Manhattan towing operations to comply with a state order to stop using Pier 76 as a tow pound.

Franklyn Sepulveda, deputy director of NYPD’s traffic division, told dozens of tow truck operators Thursday they should immediately stop towing vehicles in the city’s most traffic-congested borough until further notice — unless directed to address an emergency, two operators told The Post. 

Marvin Robbins, vice president of District Council 37 Local 983, which represents the tow truck operators, claims the order puts New Yorkers at risk. 

“Once people realize they won’t be towed, it’s going to be a free-for-all like the Wild West,” said Robbins. “What happens when cars block a fire hydrant or a bus lane? Emergency vehicles won’t be able to get around. That’s especially troubling, and this jeopardizes lives.”

Robbins, who attended the roll call, said Sepulveda also informed the operators some areas of Manhattan would beef up “booting” as a temporary deterrent for illegal parkers.

The directive is in response to Cuomo pushing through a state budget provision last April that requires the city to pay millions of dollars in fines unless the NYPD vacated the Hell’s Kitchen tow pound by the end of 2020 — so the pound could be turned over to the Hudson River Park Trust for redevelopment. 

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The Pier 76 tow pound

Robert Miller

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Robert Miller

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Robert Miller

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And despite being put on notice months ago, the city sat on its hands.

Operators have been told they have two weeks to relocate to one of the NYPD’s three other pounds in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, which Robbins said lack space for the added staff and vehicles.

NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie told The Post vehicles will be towed to the pounds in the outer boroughs “until further notice.”

In a letter, Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan told state officials that the NYPD has begun “the process of vacating” the pound and expects to be off the site by the end of January” to avoid paying a $12 million fine, plus an additional $3 million in fines for each month the city occupies the space. 

He also said the city would “continue to facilitate necessary towing operations” at the other city tow pounds while trying to come up with a long-term plan.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer ripped City Hall for not moving fast enough to find a new site for a borough pound.

“I’ve been raising this issue with the administration for months. We need a permanent tow pound,” said Brewer, who has long fought for the existing eyesore pound to be turned over to Hudson River Park.

De Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz said: “We remain absolutely committed to protecting New Yorkers’ health and safety, and that means keeping the street clear for emergency vehicles.”

The Hudson River Park Trust has hoped for many years to redevelop both Pier 76 and nearby Pier 40 to generate funding for the nearly five-mile-long park’s maintenance. However, Cuomo in late 2019 blocked new development targeted for Pier 40, leading to the Hudson River Park Trust renewing efforts to get the tow pound off Pier 76 despite NYPD opposition.

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