Ban newspaper boxes outside new Jewish museum for security purposes?

Posted: October 13, 2009

The National Museum of American Jewish History will open on Independence Mall in 13 months, and planners are already giving serious thought to security.

City Council's Streets and Services Committee today will consider legislation to prohibit newspaper boxes on the sidewalks near the museum, now being built at 5th and Market streets.

Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced the legislation Sept. 24. His aide Brian Abernathy said that it had come at the request of the museum after concerns about explosive devices and other threats.

Gwen Goodman, the museum's executive director, said the precaution had been suggested by a security consultant. Goodman compared the security idea to precautions taken at most public buildings.

"It's not like we're the only ones looking into security," Goodman said. "But we are a Jewish institution. Jewish institutions have had to take extra care."

In June, an 89-year-old white supremacist was accused of firing a rifle in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, killing a security guard. James von Brunn, who was wounded in the face when other guards returned fire, is undergoing a competency evaluation at a federal prison.

The local museum, five stories and 100,000 square feet, is scheduled to open in November 2010.

The Council committee today also will consider the repeal of legislation approved unanimously in May to charge a $500 fee for businesses that use the city for trash pickup.

The legislation, passed a week after Council struck a budget deal with Mayor Nutter, would charge 15,000 businesses and raise $7 million per year. The fee has not yet been implemented.

DiCicco, who also introduced the legislation to repeal the bill, has said that it was a mistake for Council to approve the trash fee.

The Nutter administration did not respond yesterday to a request for comment on the bill.

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