Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005

B.P.C. elevator problem remains stuck

By Ronda Kaysen

How many government officials does it take to fix an elevator? More than you can imagine if the elevator is in Battery Park City.
There are four elevators connecting Battery Park City to Church St., carrying passengers up and over Route 9A (West St.), onto a pedestrian bridge. Of the four—at Rector, Liberty, Vesey and Church Sts.—two currently do not work and the other two are a gamble.

The elevators have long earned a reputation for being wholly unreliable. Weary pedestrians, stroller-pushers and those with disabilities are often left stranded on West St., peddling along from one broken elevator to the next, left to either dash across a dizzying West St. highway or climb the pedestrian bridge steps. For those with physical disabilities and limitations, stairs are not a viable option.

The Battery Park City Authority, which maintains two of the bridges, attributes their unreliable status to an elevator workers union strike, which was recently resolved, and an inherent problem with operating outdoor elevators in a Northeastern climate.

“Outdoor elevators are not meant for this climate,” said Leticia Remauro, an authority spokesperson, at a recent Community Board 1 meeting. “I’m not lying to you, I’m telling you the truth. We’re out there in the field trying to get this done.”

Changes are on the way, officials insist. The Chambers St. elevator, which is maintained by the authority, should be up and running in about two weeks, once the hydraulics are replaced, Remauro insists. The authority plans to replace the elevator itself within the year, which will require another closure. “We believe that this replacement is going to provide incredible service,” Remauro told Downtown Express.

The Liberty St. elevator is more of a chair lift than an elevator. It is maintained by Brookfield Properties and is currently being replaced with a hardier system. Work began on the elevator this week and will finish by mid-January. “It will be more along the lines of — I hate to say it — the Vesey St. elevator,” Michael Bosso, director of operations for Brookfield, told board members.

The Vesey St. elevator, also maintained by Brookfield, is operating with few glitches, although pedestrians still complain that it is a far cry from reliable.

No changes are planned for the Rector St. elevator, which is also a chair lift. The Rector St. elevator is lightly used and the Authority, which maintains it, has no intentions of meddling with it anytime soon.

C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin suggested establishing a task force to figure out why the elevators are so finicky. “This situation is totally unacceptable,” she told city officials at the meeting. “We are rebuilding the World Trade Center and yet we can’t fix these elevators.”

Ronda@DowntownExpress.com


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