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Evicted! Soft-serve man who took over tourist attraction is booted

The Brooklyn Paper
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A smoke-belching soft ice-cream truck that had commandeered the city’s much-ballyhooed $1.5-million tourism gateway at the Brooklyn Bridge footpath has been booted by cops — who vowed to ticket its owner if he ever parks there again.

Ice cream man Tony Rendazzo angered DUMBO workers and residents by parking his exhaust-spewing truck under the bridge at the corner of Washington and Prospect streets — weeks after a cornucopia of elected officials cheered the unveiling of their tourist-friendly signage and lighting at the fabled span’s hard-to-find footpath.

Hours after The Brooklyn Paper broke the smoke-filled story on its Web site on Wednesday, an officer from the 84th Precinct “sternly warned” Rendazzo that his truck was in a “No standing” zone. Now Rendazzo parks in a legal area nearby — but cops are onto him.

“If [the public] sees him under the bridge in the next week, [they should] call [the 84th Precinct] because he’s going to get a ticket if he doesn’t get out of there,” said a cop involved in the eviction. “He shouldn’t be there anymore at all.”

Until Wednesday, Rendazzo had ignored repeated complaints about the scratchy throats and watery eyes that his smoke induces on passers-by.

Rendazzo said he chose the spot because the city’s lighting and map project has served its purpose: attracting tourists and would-be customers. Tricky thing is, Rendazzo said he wasn’t even making that much money.

”It’s over-rated here. There is a lot of tourists, but they have their minds on other things than ice cream, like the [New York City] Waterfalls [exhibit on the East River],” Rendazzo said.

When a Brooklyn Paper reporter approached Rendazzo last week and asked if he’s ever had any problems or complaints with his exhaust, Rendazzo, curtly replied, “No,” adding, “We are done talking here.”

He quickly drove away.

Moments later, as the reporter chatted with a pedestrian about the exhaust, Rendazzo drove by and screamed, “You’re talking s–t about me.”

If so, The Brooklyn Paper wasn’t alone. Locals and workers in DUMBO were increasingly annoyed by the truck.

“He parks under the bridge all the time,” said Monica, who works in DUMBO, but declined to give her last name. “It’s environmentally unsafe. It’s louder than just walking under the bridge.”

Even the hot dog vendor who parks his cart steps away from Rendazzo complained of the omnipresent smoke.

“He sits here for one hour, two hours, but the smoke is always there,” said the vendor, Ehab.

Oddly, given the growing outrage, local officials and community leaders didn’t do anything to discourage the piecemeal disfigurement of their $1.5-million renovation.

The DUMBO Improvement District, which led the “wayfinder” project, said earlier this week that it would consider studying the issue.

“We are always concerned how [the bridge overpass] looks and how it feels to those passing through,” said Kate Kerrigan, the Improvement District’s executive director.

Borough President Markowitz, who also celebrated his role in creating the map and lighting scheme at the unveiling, said his office was not aware of the problem until The Brooklyn Paper alerted him to the situation.

Markowitz’s mouthpiece, Mark Zustovich, said the office investigated and called the cops.

“The new signage and lighting that directs visitors to our beautiful Brooklyn Bridge should be in clear view and accessible to anyone who needs more information on exploring everything the area has to offer,” he said. “We will certainly look into this matter to determine if the location of the vendor is appropriate and whether any changes need to be made.”

Rendazzo’s truck was not only in violation of the “No standing” rule, but at least two other city ordinances (three, if you count his obscenity yelled in public at a Brooklyn Paper reporter): pollution and idling.

“If visible smoke is coming out, [the truck] can be issued a violation,” said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Michael Saucier.

Regardless of whether the truck’s engine is running or the exhaust is just from a refrigeration unit, heavy-duty trucks are not allowed to idle for more than five minutes.

Updated 5:07 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

James from Dumbo says:

I actually enjoyed daily visits to the ice cream truck and having an ice cream cone with my family- brought back childhood memories!

What's next banning cars & buses from Dumbo?

People in Dumbo need to cool down with a softee cone!

As for the reporter, is your talent limited to writing stories about an ice cream vendor- aren't there more important issue to write about?
Aug. 6, 2008, 9:09 pm

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