FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Food vendors on the blocks surrounding the World Trade Center are posing an increased security risk, authorities said, and it's time for them to move — but not too far.
Captain Leighton Myrie, the executive officer of the World Trade Center Command, an NYPD unit charged with securing the complex, is leading an effort to expand a "no-vending zone" that already circles the site. Officials now want to push the food carts one block further from the complex.
"We don't want them out of business, we just need them to move," Myrie said, after speaking to a supportive Community Board 1 committee Wednesday night. "They're a security concern."
At issue now are the NYPD security check points for cars that are being built at Liberty Street and Trinity Place, and Washington and Barclay streets. The current vending zone — which allows for food carts north of Vesey Street, south of Liberty Street, east of Broadway and and west of West Street — has the checkpoints near where the vendors sell their food.
The checkpoints, for vehicles that will eventually be able to drive through the site, are part of a larger security plan in place for the complex, which will continue to develop as more buildings on the site open.
Myrie said the corner of Liberty Street and Trinity Place is a particular problem, as vendors sit right next to the future checkpoint.
"In general the vendors are problematic as we try to secure the site, because they come in with carts they move everyday, with different people buying from them, and there's a risk for explosive devices without proper screening," Myrie said. "Especially now, as we're trying to clear an area for the checkpoints, the vendor issue is a concern."
The new restricted zone would have basically the same east and west boundaries, except it would push vendors north of Barclay Street and south of Cedar Street, then head further south to Thames Street, on Trinity Place.
Pictured on the left are the current boundaries for the "no-vending" zone, on the right is the proposed expansion. The "1" and "2" indicate where the car checkpoints are located. (via World Trade Center Command)
A hot dog and pretzel vendor on the corner of Liberty and Trinity said his concern is that he won't have any place to move, as the surrounding blocks already have a number of food vendors, like Zuccotti Park across the street.
"We all have families, we need to make a living," said Ali Mohammed, whose boss has run the cart near the World Trade Center for more than 10 years. "If we move, where will we go?"
To get the vending zone change, Myrie said, they'll need approval from the New York State Legislature.
"This may take some time but we think it's important," Myrie said, adding that they've just started having conversations with elected officials, including State Senator Daniel Squadron, in an effort to move the plan ahead.
"We think it's necessary," he added.
A spokesperson for Squadron said they were supportive of the NYPD's efforts, but did not immediately comment about next steps for the plan.