Editorial: Don't let Trade Center be an armed camp
While a rebuilt World Trade Center site nears its debut as one of the world's most important and iconic business districts, a critical controversy is brewing. How much security is too much?
The tower at 4 World Trade Center should be finished this year, its 72 floors filled mostly with offices and a smattering of retail. And 1 World Trade Center should open in 2014 with 104 floors of office space and a bit of retail.
Waiting in the wings is the 9/11 museum, part of the National September 11 Memorial that already attracts 4.5 million visitor a year. Also coming are the Port Authority transportation hub and more office and retail space.
Here's the problem. The old World Trade Center, on a 16-acre superblock, sliced downtown into grim, isolated quadrants -- an unfortunate effect of 1960s urban planning. The new WTC was seen as a way to repair that oversight.
The expectation was that the new WTC would feature a restored Greenwich Street running through the site, linking trendy TriBeCa with Battery Park. The hope was that an extended Fulton Street could connect Battery Park City workers and residents with shops and offices in the Wall Street area. The idea was to create a round-the-clock neighborhood held together at its core by a bustling new World Trade Center. packed with workers, sightseers, diners, dog-walkers, bike-riders shoppers and stroller-pushers. What the neighborhood may get is something else.
The New York Police Department wants to wrap the site in a fortified no man's land of guard booths, traffic checkpoints and sidewalk barriers. Specifically, the NYPD wants to see nine guard booths around the site, reports say, along with a barricade system at eight intersections and bollards -- impact-resistant posts -- around buildings.
If the NYPD gets its way, pedestrians en route to work, school, or one of the neighborhood's historic attractions might feel more like they're at Sing Sing on visiting day than in one of the world's great urban precincts. The NYPD is correct to insist on safety. But the neighborhood also has to work as a vibrant community.
The NYPD must get this right. It's not there yet.