The Occupy Wall Street protesters who have taken up residence at Zuccotti Park for the past three weeks may temporarily have to find new digs Friday when crews plan to enter and clean the park.
Mayor Bloomberg appeared at the park Wednesday evening to inform protesters that cleaning crews will be dispatched there at the end of the week.
The billionaire mayor strolled through the park with his security detail at about 6:45 p.m., according to several demonstrators.
Witnesses said his demeanor was cheerful, though he didn't stop to speak to many protesters.
"I do believe it was really curious he came here to speak to people, but just walked right through," said Victoria Sobel, a Cooper Union student. "I did not see him speak to anyone, though I do hear that a message was issued that he wanted to clean the park systematically."
According to Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, Bloomberg expressed his belief in the First Amendment and that protesters have a right to protest. But he said "the last three weeks have created unsanitary conditions and considerable wear and tear on the park," according to Holloway.
"The situation is not in the best interest of the protesters, residents or the City," continued Holloway.
The owner of the park, Brookfield Properties, had been expressing concerns over the upkeep of the park.
In a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Brookfield CEO Richard B. Clark said the company has received "hundreds of phone calls and emails" from residents and workers in the area complaining about "lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use, the lack of safe access to and usage of the Park, ongoing noise at all hours, unsanitary conditions and offensive odors."
Some of that noise includes the incessant, pounding beat of drums at the park.
The constant percussion is painful to the ears of Steve Zamoftis, owner of Steve's Pizza directly across the street. "It makes you crazy," he said, suggesting the drummers perform outside the mayor's home or office instead.
The drummers have agreed not to perform after 10 p.m.
In addition to the noise, sanitation and police barricades have become the big concerns to residents in the area, according to Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1.
Clark added in his letter to Kelly that they were concerned over "the constant deliveries of materials to the Park," none of which are screened.
Clark requested the NYPD's help in clearing out the park in order to clean it.
Occupiers said they have been trying to tidy up the park themselves. A crew was even seen Wednesday scrubbing the pavement with water and organic cleaning fluid.
"I see people at all hours of the day and night volunteering to keep the park clean," said Hannah Morgan, a college graduate. "I still think it's amazing how clean the park is for an all-volunteer effort."
But "it is challenging," said Sean Ivins, an occupier from Salt Lake City, as he squeezed a mop in a rolling bucket.
Outside of the park, some local business owners are taking extra steps to keep out the occupiers. Stacey Tzortzatos, the owner of Panini & Co on Cedar Street, said she has locked the bathroom doors to keep out protesters. "I just want them to leave," she said.
The cleaning Friday will be done in stages, and the protesters will be able to return to the areas that have been cleaned, provided they abide by the rules that Brookfield has established for the park, said Holloway.
The plan to clean the park comes after another day of anti-Wall Street demonstrations, including a march to the office of J.P. Morgan Chase. Four protesters were arrested.