An extensive police plan to safeguard the rebuilt World Trade Center site against vehicle-borne bombs with new checkpoints and barriers could stifle a growing community and complicate traffic and feels like "a strangulation," area residents said Wednesday.
The plan, outlined in a draft document, would ban uninspected vehicles from accessing the 16-acre lower Manhattan site, which includes the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, five new skyscrapers, a performing arts center and a major transportation hub.
The goal of the plan is to protect the site while ensuring an open environment for residents and visitors, police Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism Richard Daddario said at a hearing at which he presented a draft environmental impact statement.
Kathleen Moore, who lives on a block across the street from 4 World Trade Center, said she was worried ambulances wouldn't be able to access her building.
"I understand all the reasons why this has to be done," she said. "But it feels like a strangulation to all of us who live here."
Julie Menin, the chairwoman of the community board representing the neighborhood, testified at the hearing, saying that no one was against the need for security at the site where terrorists used hijacked planes to destroy the twin towers and kill thousands of people on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We want to make sure security is done in a way that recognizes the community that surrounds it," she said in an interview.
New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the department wanted to hear from residents.
"I know there are some concerns from the people who live in that area," he told reporters at a separate event. "We want to work it out. Obviously, we don't want to unnecessarily inconvenience anybody."
It could take until 2019 to fully implement the plan, which would create a so-called standoff perimeter around the site to minimize the danger of collapsing buildings; institute a trusted access program for taxis, residents and delivery vans; and create a vehicular security center that would control access to the site's underground traffic network of loading docks and parking areas. There would be four points where vehicles could enter and exit the site.
Public comments on the environmental impact document can be submitted to the NYPD until 5 p.m. on March 26.
Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.
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