By Amanda Woods Tribeca Trib
It could be at least another three or four years before police horses return to their old Tribeca home at 19 Varick Street.
The commanding officer of the NYPD’s World Trade Center Command Post, which moved into the converted stables three years ago, delivered the news to Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee Tuesday evening.
“As for the foreseeable future, we are going to remain in 19 Varick Street,” Deputy Inspector Kevin Burke told the committee.
The NYPD’s Mounted Unit left its Tribeca location to make way for a “temporary” command post—to the dismay of many residents, who bemoaned the loss of the 99-year-old stables as a remnant of local history and added safety for the neighborhood.
At the time, then-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told CB1 in a letter that the horses would return in 18 months, once the NYPD had found a permanent location for the command post. Nearly three years later, though, the command post remains on Varick Street, and the police horses stay at stables on 36th Street at 12th Avenue, near the Jacob Javits Center. Burke told the committee that the city had considered several sites for the post’s permanent location, including 4 World Trade Center, a building at Murray Street and West Broadway and 100 Rector Street. None of them fit the bill.
“Each site was deemed as inappropriate, because of vehicle allocation for personnel, or it was just too expensive,” he said.
“We’re disappointed,” committee member Jeff Ehrlich told Burke. “We were disappointed when we were told it was temporary and now it’s seeming to be quite permanent.”
“The community board made a resolution [opposing the horses’ move] in May 2011,” said CB1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes. “Now it’s almost three years later. How long do you expect this process to last?”
Burke estimated it would be at least three years to settle on a new location, a process that would have to include a six-month land use review. In the spring, he said, the city will look to hire a real estate broker who will continue the search for the command post’s new location.
“We ultimately will go and visit the site and make a recommendation and see if it fits our use, and it will come down to [the NYPD’s] finance area, which is the facilities management division,” he said.
Burke stood by the former police commissioner’s promise, insisting that the horses will “eventually” return to the Varick Street stables.
“If they told us tomorrow there was a suitable area for [the command post] to go, we would go,” Burke said. “It’s just a matter of locating it, the financial constraints that a long-term lease gets into effect and whether they want all that comes with the NYPD being there. It’s not an easy decision.”
White Street resident Prudence Carlson said more needs to be done to ensure that the stables remains on the NYPD’s radar.
“My concern is that through inertia, the horse stables will not be brought back and that it becomes repeatedly postponed,” Carlson said.
McVay Hughes said the board would send a letter to the NYPD, reminding them of the former commissioner’s pledge.
“This is something we’re really concerned about,” she said. “We want to make sure that the promise is kept.”