Friday, March 4, 2011

Port Authority Not Maintaining JFK Fences: Critics by Philip Messing -

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The Port Authority is under renewed fire for failing to maintain a quarter mile section of fencing adjacent to Kennedy Airport – the latest problem to bedevil the agency’s beleaguered $100 million state-of-the-art security system that is now three years beyond sechedule.
The latest flap arose when a section of fencing adjacent to the eastern edge of the airport went down during recent winter snow storms, leaving runway 4-Left, which abuts Jamaica Bay, exposed and vulnerable to potential terrorists or trespassers, critics maintain.
A Port Authority spokesman today threw a cold blanket on the hot charges, dismissing the seriousness of the alleged security breach.
"Security was never compromised and the area was secure and is secure," the spokesman insisted.
Other sources, however, claim the porous fencing is the most recent problem to have befallen a highly-touted security apparatus the agency purchased amid much fanfare from Ratheon in 2009.
The safety network — dubbed the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System , or PIDS – was supposed to provide state-of-the-art electronic fencing complete with motion sensors and closed-circuit cameras that would immediately pinpoint someone trying to get on a runway to attack a plane at JFK, La Guardia, Newark and Teterboro airports.
But the system has faced a troubling series of delays — and Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward recently admitted at a public hearing that he could not yet predict when the system would become fully operational.
Paul Nunziato, head of the police union for PA cops, said the danges posed by the faulty fence were heightened by the agency’s refusal to staff police patrols.
"The Port Authority eliminated all perimeter police patrols at JFK Airport approximately five years ago in anticipation of the installation of PIDS," said Nunziato, president of the Port Autority Police Benevolent Association.
A PAPD insider told The Post that the area of fencing that was most recently compromised went down about two months ago and was not repaired until Wednesday, in advance of a Channel 7 News report.
The source added that airport runway fencing is fragile because it is constructed of plastic mesh, rather than more sturdy metal, which can interfere with aircraft instrument landing systems and other navigational aids.souce said.
"It has to be non-metalic, which is a defiiciency and means that [PA officias] have to pay more attention to it," the source insisted.