Religious institutions who have won federal grants to install anti-terrorism bollards are hitting a roadblock of another kind — bureaucracy.
Houses of worship and religious schools that have won homeland security grants to install bollards — which can help stop ramming attacks by cars and trucks, like the one on West Street in 2017 — are finding it difficult to actually put them in place thanks to the red tape from the city, the News has learned.
Thursday, Councilman Chaim Deutsch said he’s convening a meeting of about 100 such institutions of various religious faiths and a slew of city agencies to hash out what’s the hold up.
“We need to streamline this process, and we need to make sure that these institutions that receive Homeland Security funding, that those bollards come in,” Deutsch said.
He said he realized the problem after getting a call a few weeks ago from an organization that couldn’t make progress getting a bollard installed.
“So I started calling other schools that received this Homeland Security grant — no one knows what to do with it,” he said. “In the mean time people are sitting on the money, sitting on the funding.”
David Pollock, the direct of public policy and security at the Jewish Community Relations Council, said organizations looking to install a bollard need to get a franchise to put them on city property.
“It takes a lot of expertise to navigate the bureaucracy, and a lot of stubbornness to make it work,” he said.
Even organizations with architects behind their bollard projects are running into delays and frustration, he said.
“The agencies point at each other saying the hold-up is over there, and everyone is pointing at one another. And what Councilman Deutsch is going to do tomorrow is get all the agencies in the room and say, OK, this is how we tell these organizations that are interested in installing bollards, tell them how to do it,” he said.
In the meantime, the organizations have been “running in circles,” Pollock said, and often wind up seeking the help of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
“You shouldn’t have to know me to get something done,” he said.
For Deutsch, there is no time to wait.
“In this day and age, when we see what happened in Pittsburgh and the hate crimes, we have a 28 percent increase of hate crimes here in the city … we need to protect ourselves in any which way. So we want to get these bollards we are going to get it done,” he said.
Mayor de Blasio’s office said the city works with building owners to install the security measures.