Manhattan, NY - After taking some heat for his handling of Super Storm Sandy, Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, opened up Central Park to displaced residents, allowing them to camp legally in certain sections of the park for the first time since the great depression.
The park will be opened up on Wednesday, November 21 at noon. Plots of land will be dispensed in what Bloomberg classified as a "western style land grab", not unlike the scenes portrayed in the 1992 Tom Cruise / Nicole Kidman classic film, Far and Away.
Residents who have lost their homes but don't qualify for FEMA aid can line up on the southern end of the park near the Plaza Hotel on 65th Street any time before Wednesday's start, to ensure the best spot for what should be quite a foot race.
"It's the fairest way we could think of to hand out the plots." Explained Bloomberg, in a media conference on Thursday.
The plots will be marked out in a grid formation with flags and chalk lines. Hurricane victims will then race to secure a ten-foot by ten-foot section, which will allow enough room for a family of four.
The mayor imagines that the most valuable plots will be the ones closest to the duck pond or other sources of water, since no extra amenities, other than land, will be provided.
"The city is experiencing crippling budget cuts, just like the rest of the country," Bloomberg explained, "so there is no extra money for Porto-lets or kitchen tents. We apologize for this inconvenience but we are doing everything that we can at this time." The mayor added.
Officials expect between ten thousand and fifteen thousand people to take advantage of the program, with those numbers expected to fall as the frigid winter months set in.
In a move to re-humanize himself with the public, Bloomberg announced that he would stay in the park overnight from time to time himself. "So don't be surprised if you see me brushing my teeth in the fountain or taking a dump in a pile of leaves." The mayor told reporters. "I'll be right there with you." He said to try and reassure victims.
Bloomberg, the billionaire news magnate, is known for riding the subway like a commoner to work each day. He has enjoyed overwhelming support from the people of New York but has suffered in the polls since Super Storm Sandy.
"I think it's a good move." Said displaced Coney Island resident John DeSeppi. "I'll be there, ready to bash some skulls in for a prime spot." He added. DeSeppi and his family lost everything in the rising flood tides of Sandy and could use the free place to stay.
Others, like 82-year-old Martha Sancony, don't see the "western style" race as a fair way to hand out the plots. "How am I supposed to get a space near a fountain in my condition?" Said the wheelchair bound grandmother. "I can't possibly compete with most people for a good spot."
Perhaps Mrs. Sancony should take a queue from others, who have already posted adds on Craigslist, looking for a ringer that could easily grab a prime spot for them. In addition, some have already posted their spots for sale, days before the race has even started.
"That's America!" Said Bloomberg's deputy assistant, Robert Spagel, who assured that the city would take measures to curb this kind of behavior. "But this is New York City and if there is a sneaky way to weasel around the rules, people will find it." He added.
The Mayor urged victims to bring their own tents and cooking supplies and whatever else they'll need to survive the winter. The project is supposed to last for six months or until every last victim has been either relocated or killed.