New York City Chinatown residents, small business owners and elected officials joined the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on today in applauding the New York State Supreme Court decision in Chatham Towers, Inc. et al. v. Bloomberg et al., which found that the City violated state environmental laws when it placed barricades around New York City Police Headquarters after September 11th without preparing a full environmental impact statement.
The lawsuit, filed in June 2004, challenged the closing of Park Row, a major thoroughfare in Lower Manhattan, and the placement of barricades on several Chinatown streets. Residents asserted that the street closures have caused life-threatening delays in emergency health care and have worsened traffic problems throughout the area, disrupting the lives of neighborhood residents and deterring visitors to Chinatown.
In his decision, Justice Walter Tolub found “gross oversights” and “glaring omissions” in the NYPD’s Environmental Assessment Statement, noting in particular the City’s failure to consult with NYU Downtown Hospital and Emergency Medical Service personnel. The court noted that the study was also flawed since the NYPD did not look at traffic congestion in the area immediately surrounding the “secure zone,” resulting in longer and more congested City bus routes and dangerous street crossings for pedestrians.
The court concluded that the Police Department failed to take a “hard look” at various major impacts of its security checkpoints, barriers and street closures, in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and City Environmental Quality Review, and ordered the city to prepare a full environmental impact statement within 90 days.
The petitioners in the lawsuit were represented by AALDEF Legal Director Kenneth Kimerling and pro bono co-counsel Aldo Badini of Dewey Ballantine LLP.