By Dareh Gregorian New York Daily News
A Manhattan judge wants to see for herself the security measures Financial District residents are calling a “Berlin Wall.”
At a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday morning, Justice Margaret Chan said she’d take a “field trip” with the lawyers on the case to inspect the perimeter of the site.
Residents say the NYPD’s security plan will result in partial or complete closure of Vesey, Liberty, Greenwich and Fulton Streets, and the planned installation of security guard posts and buffers will make their homes feel like militarized zones.
Lawyer Albert Butzel said no one is more aware of the dangers of terrorism than his clients. “They saw the towers come down and the horror,” and it’s impacted their lives in the months and years since, Butzel said. But he argues the NYPD plan is overkill and fails to take into account there’s a community of people who live in the area.
“They know 9/11 – they came face to face with it. They know there has to be security. But it has to be integrated into the community” that stayed in the area despite repeated hardships, he said.
The NYPD’s plan “will have significant impact on the quality of life in the community,” Butzel said.
A lawyer for the city, Amy McCamphill, said residents’ concerns were taken into account by the NYPD, and acted upon to the extent possible.
She also noted that while some vehicle access will be limited, pedestrian access won’t be affected, and the renovated transit hub there will have access to 11 subway lines and the PATH train, making it easier for residents to get around the city.
The judge, who previously denied the residents’ request to temporarily halt construction of the security areas while she considers their case, indicated she’s not entirely unsympathetic to their plight at the end of the hearing.
“I’m summing up the proceeding as … Liberty Street does not want to be renamed No Liberty Street,” she quipped.
She said the sire inspection will happen “soon.”