By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — Top downtown elected officials stepped up pressure on federal officials to reopen Chinatown's Park Row, which has been closed as a security measure since 9/11.
In a letter Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security, the officials pressed for a “risk assessment” of the road running between Chatham Square and City Hall, which was sealed off following the terrorist attacks because of its proximity to Police headquarters.
The letter, addressed to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, requested a meeting between the agency and community leaders.
“We believe it would be enormously helpful if the Department of Homeland Security could lead a risk/security assessment of the necessity of the Park Row closure with local law enforcement agencies to help us determine how this street can be safely reopened,” the letter said.
It was signed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Borough President Scott Stringer and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
Dispatch of the letter followed Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's meeting with Chinatown stakeholders last month, when he pledged to reach out to Homeland Security regarding the closure.
Advocates pushing for Park Row’s reopening have cited multiple adverse impacts posed by the nearly decade-long closure, including damages to local businesses and the fact that area residents have to show identification when traveling in and out of the area.
“Local businesses have suffered because this important link between Chinatown and the Financial District has been cut off, isolating the neighborhoods from one another,” Silver said in a statement.
“I believe there is a safe and responsible way to reopen Park Row, as we have done with so many other streets shut down after 9/11.”
Nadler’s office has been in contact with the NYPD regarding the effort, a spokesman for the congressman said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said the agency would respond through correspondence and not the media, BusinessWeek reported.
The NYPD declined to comment.