New police unit taking up parking in Battery Park City

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  |  There have been some parking growing pains in Battery Park City since the N.Y.P.D.’s Intelligence Division recently moved to Brookfield Place at 250 Vesey St.

The unit, which was located in Chelsea, has taken over some parking in the northern end of Battery Park City. Some residents have complained that the cars have blocked fire hydrants and entrances as well as taken over crosswalks — spurring safety concerns for children getting on and off school buses, for the elderly and for emergency vehicle access.

Captain Brendan Timoney of the First Precinct told Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee on Tues., Mar. 3 that the parking problem has gotten better and that there are always bumps in the road in the first month.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you the cars are going to disappear,” he said. “The division is here to stay. It’s a good thing … it gives you extra police presence out there. They’re not here to make anybody’s life inconvenient, put anybody at harm. They’re here to actually work with the community.”

Timoney said that the precinct has been meeting with Brookfield Properties and they have been open to suggestions.

“They’ve been trying to leave open more spaces,” he said.

(Two days later in an apparent unrelated development, Timoney was transferred and is now the commanding officer at the 13th Precinct. Captain Mark Iocco replaced him.)

Timoney said the unit does not have a community affairs officer so all complaints and concerns should go through the First Precinct, who — after investigating — will turn them over to the division’s sergeant. The integrity control officer takes it from there. He said that after being sent photos of cars parked illegally, they were moved right away.

The unit is open 24 hours and has around 250 people, which includes other agencies, said Timoney.

“I can’t really go into — it’s a very sensitive issue with the N.Y.P.D.” so I don’t want to disclose too much information, he said.

Committee members were interested in increasing the amount of spots if that would help mitigate the problem. Timoney said that there 130 parking spaces available.

“We want to make everyone comfortable in the neighborhood,” said Tammy Meltzer, a committee member. “We want you to be welcome and happy and have you have a home, but part of it is also being responsive to people with their kids and handicap access back and forth.”

Referencing the two terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, Tom Goodkind said that no one doubts the need for this kind of command nearby.

“Yet, I’m wondering where the Battery Park City Authority is on this,” he said. “They know that our area’s in a targeted zone yet they don’t seem to be stepping up to the plate to find ample parking space.

“I think this is the job of the Battery Park City Authority to go to the businesses and the residencies and ask them for a percentage of their parking spaces so the police don’t have to feel uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable — they’re blocking buses, they don’t want do this. They want a place to park their cars.”

The authority’s Robin Forst did not respond at the meeting.

There is a need to balance the presence of a new enforcement arm, while ensuring the health and safety of the community, said Anthony Notaro, chairperson of the C.B. 1 committee. He also said that many of the spaces that were taken over were not regular parking spots so it is hard to know the actual effect on the community.

“Part of me says that this happens in every precinct in the city — and every firehouse in the city,” he said. “And to ask for paid parking by the city is not realistic. That’s never going to happen.”

Dennis Gault, a committee member who lives in the northern end of the neighborhood, said, “I’m concerned for the elderly. Yesterday there was a private car parked in front of the bus stop and I saw an elderly woman trying to navigate. Normally the shuttle bus would have pulled up to the curb. She had to go into the sludge.”

No one’s safety should be in jeopardy, said Timoney.

“I’m worried about that school kid that has to go to school in the morning, that has to walk out into the middle of the street because the bus can’t pull up in front of the location,” he said. “I don’t think any parent should have to worry about their kids arriving to school safe or coming home from school safe.”

Timoney asked for a list of school bus stops. Notaro suggested that the First Precinct meet briefly with building managers in the area to gauge the severity of the problem. There will also be more discussion at the next Battery Park City Committee meeting in April.

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