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BY COLIN MIXSON
In the wake of the deadly terrorist attack that killed eight people with a truck on a Downtown bike path last month, locals are demanding better protection for a small stretch of Peck Slip outside the eponymous school that closes during school days to provide a play area for the space-strapped campus.
“Obviously, it is distressing we have to think this way today. We never had to, and now we do.” said Tricia Joyce, chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee.
Local elected officials have joined the effort, calling on the city to install added security measures around the street-side play space and other vulnerable spots Downtown.
“After the terrorist attack that claimed eight lives and injured more than a dozen, it is clear that Lower Manhattan continues to be a high-profile target,” Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick wrote in a letter to the Department of Transportation. “With several elementary, middle and high schools in the area, families are looking to the city to utilize all available measures to keep students safe from a similar attack.”
To prepare the school against the threat of weaponized trucks, community members and elected officials are asking for removable bollards to be installed at either end of the block, which are capable of holding back a few tons of speeding metal, according to the pols.
“We urge the city to install movable bollards on the corners of Peck Slip and Pearl St. and Peck Slip and Water St. to secure the play street during school hours and open the street for emergency access and other hours of the day,” the elected officials wrote.
Currently, there are two forms of bollards being considered by locals for installation at the school — the manual variety, which would require school staff to install and remove them daily, or mechanical barriers like those around the New York Stock Exchange Security Zone, which can be raised and lowered automatically.
The former is cheap, but would be labor intensive for the school’s limited staff, while the latter is expensive, and would require a major capitol investment on the city’s part that could take some time to appropriate, Joyce said.
“Something like that would take time, and significant allocation of funds,” said Joyce.
The CB1 committee has met twice to discuss safety at Peck Slip School but hasn’t drafted a resolution defining its approach to play street safety concerns.
The Peck Slip Play Street that began last month was the product of a joint effort between members of Community Board 1, staff at Peck Slip School, and the city’s education and transit agencies, which negotiated with LAZ Parking lot, the operator of a nearby parking lot, which was initially reluctant to lose an entrance that let out to the proposed play area between Pearl and Water streets.
But the parking lot owner, along with landlord Milstein Properties, agreed in October last year to fund the construction of a new entrance on Pearl Street, allowing the play street to remain closed to traffic and open to kids throughout the school day.