Setting Liberty free

This scaffolding, which has hurt businesses across from the World Trade Center is expected to be taken down next month.     Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers

This scaffolding, which has hurt businesses across from the World Trade Center is expected to be taken down next month. Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers

BY JOSH ROGERS | The liberation of Liberty St. is within sight — a move that will also make visible the scaffolding-blocked stores across from the World Trade Center.

The construction shed went up over a year and a half ago to protect residents, workers and tourists from falling debris from the construction of 4 W.T.C.

“Weather permitting, we hope to enclose the south side of 4 World Trade Center around the end of February,” said Dara McQuillan. spokesperson for Silverstein Properties Inc., developers of the building. Once enclosed, the scaffolding can be removed.

Although some thought of it as a necessary evil to protect people, proponents and opponents agreed it had more than its share of negative consequences.

“When Occupy Wall Street was around, it was a place for people to hide,” said Pat Moore, a Community Board 1 member who lives on the block.

She said the block’s blight also attracted garbage and held cigarette smoke. It was even worse for people living at 114 Liberty St., Moore added, because their entrance is consumed by the protection.

The scaffolding went up soon after a boy was hit and slightly injured from a piece of debris in 2011. Silverstein agreed to the shed soon after at the community board’s request.

“Even though it was terrible, it certainly would have been much worse if someone got seriously hurt,” Moore said.

When told the scaffolding was likely to come down next month, she had a simple reaction: “Fantastic.”

Small business people on the block couldn’t agree more.

“It’s a disaster for business. “ said John Costalas, manager of Essex World Café. “It killed us. Even my relatives can’t find the store,” he added, echoing a problem cited by some of the half dozen businesses on the block.

Does he think business will pick up once the ehd is down?

“Plentytime!”

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