By Irene Plagianos DNA Info
The 9/11 Memorial Plaza should be open around the clock, residents say, so that both locals and visitors can quietly reflect in the space.
The 8-acre tree-filled plaza, with two massive pools where the Twin Towers once stood, first allowed the public to enter without tickets or security checks in May — but only from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
At night, a plastic yellow chain cordons off almost the entire perimeter of the plaza, except for a narrow path along the edge that allows passersby to walk from West Street to Liberty Street.
“The community was never told that the memorial plaza would be locked down and inaccessible to the public after a certain time,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, the chairwoman of Community Board 1.
“One of the best times to experience this plaza is at night, when it’s quieter and there’s time for reflection — there shouldn’t be restrictions on when people can visit.”
The plaza, which is still largely surrounded by construction on the new World Trade Center towers and new PATH station, now has three entrances: at Liberty and West Streets, at Liberty and Greenwich Streets and near Vesey and West Streets. The Vesey Street entrance is shuttered at night, along with most of the plaza.
CB1′s Planning Committee recently passed a resolution urging the 9/11 Memorial to keep the plaza open 24 hours a day.
“CB1 urges the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to remove all temporary after-hours barriers and restore access to allow north-south-east-west access 24/7, which will fully restore connectivity to the level originally promised,” the board wrote.
Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the 9/11 Memorial, said officials would consider extending open hours, but the plaza must be closed at night to keep the public safe.
“We have always said that we would consider more extended hours after the 9/11 Memorial is fully complete and accessible on all sides,” Frazier said in an email. “While we are not a city park, similar to those spaces, we have closing hours for financial, safety and security reasons.”
“Sidewalks and surrounding streets at the World Trade Center site will open once construction is fully complete, allowing access east and west, even during closing hours for the memorial plaza,” he added.
But some Downtown residents don’t want to wait for long-term construction to be completed before allowing for more access.
“I thought this was supposed to be a public space, something residents can use,” said Darcy Fulton, a Financial District resident. “I don’t think it makes sense to cut us off from crossing the plaza — it’s a tremendous space, and in an area still congested with construction, having open access would make getting around Downtown much easier.