Musicians in Central Park are making noise over the decision to turn the Bethesda Fountain arcade into a "Quiet Zone," a decision which has led to a blitz of tickets that the musicians say is for the sole benefit of a food concession coming to the area soon. But chef John Fraser, who will be running the concession (and who has his own legal issues to worry about these days), says you shouldn't blame him.
"It's all in the Parks' hands," Fraser, who will soon be operating a 75-table concession by the beautifully restored arcade, told the Post.
The Parks Department meanwhile says the decision to send musicians packing—sometimes in cuffs—is by popular demand. "Crowds of 700 regularly overwhelmed the terrace, completely blocked the stairs, and those trying to pass climbed on and damaged sandstone carvings on the side," a rep wrote in an e-mail. "The musicians have approximately 850 acres to use. All eight quiet zones amount to less than 33 acres. The public wants quiet zones and have repeatedly requested quiet places for passive enjoyment of the park."
Whether or not people want quiet in the park—which is their right to want—making one of the most visible and famous attractions in the park off-limits to musicians, especially an area with such lovely acoustics, seems misguided. As Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates argues, "It's absurd that the city is trying to take away what is enjoyment by so many for a watering hole for the wealthy."