By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
CHINATOWN — Chinatown’s Park Row has become a “militarized zone” where local residents endure invasive security measures while traveling to and from their homes, a group of community members told U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday.
LaHood met with the Chinatown Working Group to discuss a handful of transportation issues impacting the lower Manhattan neighborhood, chief among them the continued closure of Park Row, which was shut to most through traffic following 9/11 because of its proximity to One Police Plaza.
Across the city, similar security measures have been scaled back in recent years, but "in this area, it hasn't actually thawed," said Danny Chen, chair of the Working Group’s transportation committee.
It's “a constant reminder” of 9/11, Chen said, adding that rebuilding projects that have moved forward across lower Manhattan since the attacks have not similarly occurred in Chinatown.
Other, more alarming effects of the closure include local residents being stopped and questioned by NYPD.
“People have to occasionally show papers to get to their homes,” said Community Board 1’s Marc Ameruso.
“This is America,” he added, calling the practice “disturbing.”
Community Board 2 member Ian Dutton referred to Park Row as a “militarized zone” and said reopening it “would let the children of Chinatown play in the space that belongs to Chinatown.”
LaHood said he thought the U.S. Department of Homeland Security needed to get involved in the security matters affecting Park Row.
“That’s the least they can do,” he said, adding that he would reach out to officials from the agency.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron, whose district covers all of Chinatown, asked that LaHood bring this message back to Washington with him: federal anti-terrorism funds would also help improve the situation.