Free at last! Security ‘ring of steel’ comes down at Metrotech

Free at last! Security ‘ring of steel’ comes down at Metrotech
Community Newspaper Group / Andy Campbell

Downtown’s exhaust-belching ring of steel is finally being dismantled after 10 years.

Manned security trucks that had blocked key vehicular entrances to the Metrotech office complex since 9-11 will be redeployed after a division of the New York Stock Exchange leaves the center on Friday.

The terrorism line of defense — in this case, a series of manned GMC pickup trucks — was tightened around the Downtown office complex to stop vehicles from getting near the Security Industry Automation Corporation, a stock exchange division that was deemed a high-profile target after the 2001 terror attacks.

Trucks blocked underground parking entrances along Jay Street and Duffield Street, while a third was positioned on the north side of Willoughby Street at Lawrence Street.

Some locals understand the need for a highly visible display of security.

“[SIAC] was a high-risk operation that dealt with all the computer operations of the stock exchange,” said Michael Weiss, executive director of the Metrotech Business Improvement District. “You knock that building out, and the stock exchange doesn’t work. … So they held that security perimeter 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The perimeter consisted of the trucks, which idled day and night to provide comfort for their drivers, who only let in verified employees at the campus.

Weiss said the operation probably cost “over $1 million a year.”

With the trucks gone, the city could restore public parking on Lawrence Street between Willoughby Street and the Metrotech campus, but the Department of Transportation said it needs to study the area first.

Opening the street may ease some traffic or parking tension on several beleaguered Downtown roadways, but it’s certainly not a celebratory time for a handful of stationed security workers and one bomb-detecting dog.

“Yeah, we’re out of a job on Friday — do you guys have any photography positions available?” asked one officer at the Lawrence Street security post, who declined to give his name.