The idea of removing Times Square's pedestrian plaza as a means of dispersing the topless and costumed tip-seekers who congregate there is just one of many possible solutions and not a "fait accompli," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
He also sought to dispel the notion that his task force studying ways to curb the apparent proliferation of buskers at the "Crossroads of the World" is targeting only the breast-baring women who don body paint and pose for photos with tourists. The costumed characters who inhabit the square and DVD peddlers are also under scrutiny, he said.
"This is about a business, people making money and doing it in a way that obviously comes with problems, so we want to regulate it properly," de Blasio said at an unrelated event in Queens.
Police Commissioner William Bratton first publicly suggested the five-block stretch of pedestrian-friendly space in Times Square -- created in 2009 by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- be removed. Bratton and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod are co-chairmen of the task force.
Asked Monday whether two men should lead a group deciding the fates of female performers, de Blasio said the task force is weighing Times Square's "whole picture" not just the so-called desnudas -- a Spanish word meaning naked that has been embraced by some of the women.
"It's going to look at costumed characters, it's going to look at the DVD sellers, it's going to look at the painted ladies, it's going to look at the traffic dynamics and the congestion dynamics," he said.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat whose district covers parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, interjected that she was on the task force. "It's not all men," she said on behalf of the mayor.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Monday lined up with other elected officials who want to keep the plaza.
"Putting back the honking, angry, fumy Broadway parking lot at the so-called center of the world would be no accomplishment," she said in a statement.