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Removing Times Square pedestrian plazas 'problematic,' Cuomo says

Topless women pose for pictures with tourists in

Topless women pose for pictures with tourists in Times Square on Aug. 18, 2015. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Removing the Times Square pedestrian plazas to drive out tip-seeking topless women and costumed characters would be "problematic for a lot of people," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday of the proposal being considered by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

Cuomo was apparently referring to the criticism from City Council members, a Times Square business group and open-space advocates that has so far greeted the proposal, which would return cars to parts of Seventh Avenue and Broadway for the first time since 2009.

"It depends on what solution they come up with and then we'll take a look at it at that time," Cuomo said in a TV interview, of a task force convened by de Blasio to consider how to handle the tip seekers. "If the solution is breaking up the plaza, obviously I think that would be problematic for a lot of people, but let's see what he's proposing first," Cuomo told an Albany-based Time Warner Cable News program.

In a separate interview with cable news station NY1 in the city, de Blasio said the proposal to end the pedestrian plaza was only one idea being considered, in addition to a "middle ground" alternative on which de Blasio did not elaborate.

A mayoral task force, overseen by Bratton and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod, is considering how to handle the influx of the women and costumed characters. Their recommendations are due Oct. 1.

De Blasio said other ideas could include converting the plaza into city parkland where panhandling is banned, or designating a particular area of Times Square for the women and characters.

The mayor said there has been "some real misreporting" on the possibility that the plaza could be ripped out, though he didn't say what about the reporting was inaccurate.

The courts have ruled that women have the right to be topless in public and people have the right to panhandle.

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