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State business aid agency says Times Square needs family-friendly entertainment

Times Square includes The Westin New York at

Times Square includes The Westin New York at Times Square, which is pictured here. Photo Credit: Westin Hotels

The state agency that spearheaded the redevelopment of Times Square said Thursday that the area's continued economic success depends on maintaining a family-friendly environment.

The approval in Manhattan of a resolution by the board of directors of Empire State Development, the state's primary business aid agency, came a day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo decried the presence of topless women posing for photographs for money in the square. He vowed to end the practice.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also has vowed to take action about the women clad in body paint and bikini bottoms. About a dozen of them have been posing for photographs in recent days.

Empire State chief Howard Zemsky, in a memo yesterday to fellow board members, said, "Activity which threatens to disrupt commercial activity, or has the effect of discouraging people and families from visiting [Times Square] or the wider neighborhood . . . has the potential to undermine the economic, and thus the physical, stability of the [redevelopment] project and the surrounding Times Square neighborhood."

He said a family-friendly atmosphere was "inherent" in the goals stated by the agency when it began work to revitalize Times Square in the mid-1990s and the resolution would "clarify" this.

"Disruption of commerce and discouraging public and family participation in the public areas surrounding [Times Square] are contrary to the goals of the project . . . and, where in violation of New York State Penal Laws, are prohibited," Zemsky wrote.

The board unanimously approved the resolution.

Attorneys for Empire State said the resolution wouldn't violate free speech rights, but they acknowledged New York City, not the state, now owns Times Square.

An Empire State spokesman declined to comment when asked about the reason for Thursday's board vote and whether legal action was in the offing.


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