MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NY – Donald Trump barely visited New York and often decried it during his tenure as president – but maintaining the four-year lockdown around Trump Tower has cost taxpayers $ 150 million, according to the city.
Since 2016, even before Trump took office, the NYPD has completely blocked 56th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues, fearing that protesters would target the building, where Trump has a home.
The measures also include cement barricades lining Fifth Avenue, where police and federal agents stand guard outside the tower.
The $ 150 million figure covers protection for the NYPD between the 2016 election and last week’s inauguration, City Hall spokeswoman Laura Feyer told Patch this week. The federal government has so far reimbursed the city for all costs until September 2020.
âWe expect they will cover the remaining costs as well,â Feyer said.
Now the city has started to reduce the security presence around Trump Tower – much to the relief of local businesses, which suffered during the extended shutdown.
“We want security to be minimized,” said Rob Byrnes, president of the East Midtown Partnership, which works on behalf of neighboring businesses. “It’s just not a comfortable shopping or dining situation for anyone.”
“It’s going to be wonderful”
The four-year closure to vehicle traffic and most pedestrian access has been “very detrimental to retail” on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, Byrnes said. He declined to name stores that suffered losses, but luxury retailers Armani, Gucci and Oxford Clothes all have locations in the neighborhood.
The closures were maintained at all times even though Trump spent little time in New York City during his presidency. He only visited the city once last year and only spent 20 days there in 2019.
He called the city a “ghost town” last year and angered New York City when its administration named it an “anarchist jurisdiction.”
Now that Trump has stepped down and, however, the NYPD plans to reopen the streets and cut back on patrols, the Wall Street Journal reported. Small changes have already started, such as a reduced presence of armed guards, but the process will likely be gradual, Byrnes said.
Jerome Barth, president of the Fifth Avenue Association, said he had few complaints about the way the shutdown was handled, praising the âterrific communicationâ between the NYPD, the Secret Service and neighborhood stakeholders.
Yet, he said, “It will be wonderful news to see the barricades and the cement blocks – all of those very hard pieces – go away.”
What future for the locked blocs once they are less militarized? Byrnes suggested the long shutdown could make the neighborhood more open to complete street reimagining.
“We could either keep it as a shared street or make it a more pedestrian-friendly area – not quite a thoroughfare,” he said.
Such a change would only happen if it wins the support of neighborhood stakeholders, Byrnes warned. But he said the process could start sooner than some think.
âPresidents have a way of slowly disappearing when they are no longer in office,â he said.