City officials have a message for the federal government and President-elect Donald Trump: Pay up and get out.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has penned a letter to President Barack Obama’s administration requesting $35 million in federal reimbursements for the NYPD’s role in securing the area around Trump Tower between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20 — the span between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
He said he believes this sum will cover the entire cost of the extra security for that period. That equates to just north of $450,000 being spent on security each day.
“Last month was the first time we had NYPD taking such a crucial role and huge role in providing security around Trump Tower,” de Blasio said at a Monday morning crime briefing with Police Commissioner James O’Neill at the First Precinct.
Noting the feds’ financial support of last year’s papal visit, which drew about 6,000 police officers and more than 1,000 police vehicles, de Blasio said at the briefing that he was “hopeful” that the administration would be responsive.
Melania Trump has expressed the desire to continue living in the family’s penthouse apartment in the tower after Trump assumes office. Trump himself has said that he’d like to return to the city on weekends, which the mayor fears will sap an “extraordinary amount of resources.”
“It is a high-density neighborhood and street traffic easily obstructs pathways to and from the building, making it profoundly challenging for the NYPD to establish a secure perimeter,” read the letter to Obama, signed by de Blasio as well as Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council.
De Blasio and Mark-Viverito also wrote to Congress Monday requesting financial support for presidential security after Trump’s inauguration. O’Neill said the NYPD was “still in talks with the Secret Service” about a post-inaugural plan and Melania Trump’s potential plan to stay in New York.
About a half-hour after de Blasio’s remarks, the head of the City Council’s Transportation Committee stood in front of Trump Tower on 56th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, to call on Trump’s transition team to relocate its headquarters from the building, citing traffic congestion concerns.
The councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez, said the security around the Trump transition team and their high-profile visitors has turned midtown traffic into “a parking lot” and is jeopardizing the commutes of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
“It would be an excellent sign of goodwill if our president-elect, instead of tying up the movement of goods and people, decides to be part of the solution,” Rodriguez said.
Trump’s transition team did not respond for a request to comment.
Rodriguez’s news conference was one of three that were being staged across from the tower Monday morning, smack in the middle of a dedicated bus lane. Jill Stein was there in the lane as well as a group of broadcasters with their cameras trained on the tower’s entrance.
“We’re standing in a bus lane that’s very important for New Yorkers,” Rodriguez said. “The activities on this block have put a number of roadblocks in New Yorkers’ commutes.”
O’Neill described 57th Street and Fifth Avenue as “obviously one of the busiest intersections in the city.”
Around the tower, police officers were either standing watch, shifting barricades or continually drawing and withdrawing police tape at crosswalks to manage pedestrians’ rights of way. Tourists slowing to take photos of the tower were asked to keep it moving.
Rodriguez cheekily suggested for Trump’s team to relocate south. “I hear Florida is a great way to escape the cold weather heading our way,” he said.
De Blasio said that he believes congestion has been exacerbated by the holiday shoppers at the nearby high-end retailers. He conceded that the decision to stay in New York is up to Trump.
“He’s the president-elect of the United States of America. I didn’t vote for him, I don’t agree with him, but he’s the president-elect and he has to do what he thinks will allow him to put together the team to govern the nation and I don’t want to second-guess him as to which location is best to do that,” he said. “Obviously, if it’s a jump ball, I’d say go to that beautiful golf course in New Jersey.”