Pols continue to push for Park Row risk assessment

BY John Bayles

For nearly ten years, Chinatown residents have seen Lower Manhattan streets that were closed off after the 9/11 attacks re-open and roadblocks removed. The one street that is of paramount importance to them however, Park Row, remains barricaded.

They hope a recent letter drafted by U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler and signed by other local elected officials will help to change that fact.

The letter is directed to N.Y.P.D. Commissioner Ray Kelly. It is not the first letter that Nadler has written on the matter, but this time he hopes it is addressed to the right person. A letter was sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last May, asking him to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security concerning the matter. Eventually it was determined that the appropriate person to address the letter to was Commissioner Kelly, since any risk assessment must be requested by the local authorities with jurisdiction over the closed street.

Nadler states in the letter, “We understand the security concerns of the N.Y.P.D., whose headquarters are nearby, but the reality is that this closure has brought significant hardship for residents and has virtually crippled many small businesses that rely on foot traffic.”

City Councilmember Chin, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also signed the letter to Kelly.

On Tuesday, Chin pointed to the traffic congestion, particularly along St. James Place, and specifically mentioned the problem with emergency vehicles having to navigate the area and the potential problems that could result.

Chin also noted the continued closing of the street is harming local businesses.

“Some of the businesses are blocked off by the concrete and some people don’t even know there are businesses there,” said Chin.

“The government needs to be held accountable and needs to let people know what the security risk is and why this major thoroughfare is still blocked off,” said Chin. “Whatever they have to do, they have to give us some answers.”

In a separate statement sent to the Downtown Express, Silver wrote, “As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the reopening of Park Row is long overdue. While so many other streets and landmarks have been reopened in the years since the terrorist attacks, Park Row remains a frustrating exception.”

In his letter Nadler pointed out that the closure of the street has sometimes even forced residents to show identification in order to get to their homes.

On Tuesday Senator Squadron echoed that point.

“[Park Row’s] closure continues to have harsh consequences for residents, businesses and the entire community. The N.Y.P.D. must ask the Department of Homeland Security to accurately assess the security situation on Park Row without delay.”