By Ivan Pereira
Elected officials, midtown business owners and cops came together at a hearing Tuesday to try to find solutions for the financial and traffic headaches caused by “Trumplock.”
The NYPD said it costs $500,000 per day to provide security to Trump Tower and between Election Day and Inauguration Day those costs add up to $35 million.
The Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District said its stores surrounding the tower at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street may have lost $40 million in sales due to the congestion from onlookers, a heavy NYPD presence, news crews, protesters and others.
“We are looking at four years of disruptions,” said City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents the neighborhood. “Businesses need to know how they can plan for and survive them.”
Garodnick and other council members questioned the NYPD on how this “unprecedented” situation could affect the protection of the rest of the city, since the officers assigned to the detail are working overtime shifts.
NYPD representatives said the plan to protect the tower during Trump’s unpredictable schedule in the city was “the most complex issue since 9/11 and [superstorm] Sandy,” but they reassured that it won’t affect efforts elsewhere.
“The impact comes from the fiscal side,” said Vincent Grippo, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for management and budget.
So far, the federal government has agreed to reimburse the city $7 million for the costs related to Trump security. Grippo said the department will aggressively push Congress to take on more of that bill but warned that they expect the NYPD’s overtime budget to exceed its initial projection of $550 million.
Representatives for the president-elect didn’t return messages for comment.
The NYPD and city’s Department of Small Business Services said they have been in discussion with shops near the tower to come up with strategies and suggestions to minimize the disruptions. SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop said the city’s reopening of 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues two weeks ago helped to curb the losses to businesses big and small.
“The message we want to send is that Fifth Avenue is open for business, [and] 56th Street is open for business,” he said.
When it came to the issue of improving traffic in the area, the council members touted the idea proposed by former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn that would transform the area near the tower into a pedestrian plaza. Tom Cusick, the president of the Fifth Avenue BID, criticized the proposal, contending that it would create more vehicular traffic problems and the logistics of that area is vastly different from Times Square.
“It’s an absolutely terrible idea,” he said.