By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — The TriBeCa horses have been given their marching orders.
The NYPD announced Tuesday that it will shutter the neighborhood's beloved horse stable, and replace it with a temporary World Trade Center command post.
However, the NYPD hopes to move the Mounted Unit horses back into the 99-year-old Varick Street stable in as little as 18 months, as soon as it finds a new home for the Trade Center command post.
Michael Yanosik, commanding officer of the NYPD's Facilities Management Division, told Community Board 1 members, "The police commissioner is very concerned and wants to do the right thing.
"We discussed this with the police commissioner at length. This wasn't a 10-minute meeting."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also wrote a letter to CB1 Chairwoman Julie Menin committing to eventually bringing the horses back to TriBeCa, and promising that lower Manhattan won't see a drop in Mounted Unit service in the meantime, Menin said.
Still, many TriBeCa residents spoke against the NYPD's plan. Their concerns ranged from worries that the NYPD will take up too many parking spaces, to fear that the residential area surrounding the stable could become a terrorist target.
Menin and others also slammed the NYPD for waiting until the last minute to plan the command post, which must be up and running by the time the 9/11 memorial opens on the 10th anniversary of the attacks this fall.
"This should've been done years ago," said John Fratta, a CB1 member. "It's unbelievable."
Yanosik said he was initially told about eight months ago to find headquarters for 130 officers, but recently NYPD brass told him they would actually need room for 230 officers at the post.
The increase was partly due to ongoing concerns about the World Trade Center site being a terrorist target, Yanosik said.
Yanosik recently began to hunt for a larger space, but he had to restrict the search to city-owned property since it's too late to go through a private lease negotiation that would have to be approved by the city.
The stable was the only viable site the NYPD found — alternate sites that Community Board 1 had suggested, including 1 Police Plaza and 49 Chambers St., would not work, Yanosik said.
Still, Yanosik did not argue with Fratta's assessment that the NYPD should have done a better job in planning the World Trade Center command.
"You make a great point, and I really can't defend it," Yanosik told Fratta.
Yanosik also offered more detail about the center planned for the Varick Street stable, which he said will look like a typical precinct house and will not have extra sensitive equipment related to the World Trade Center.
The command post will house a locker room on the first floor and administrative space on the second floor, Yanosik said.
Yanosik concluded by apologizing for not informing the community about the NYPD's plans before they were reported in the press.
Yanosik said Kelly specifically instructed him to contact Community Board 1, but Yanosik did not immediately make the phone call, so CB1 members wound up reading about the proposal in the Wall Street Journal instead.
"It was kind of my fault," Yanosik said.
CB1 unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night strongly opposing the NYPD's plans.