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Gotham Gazette

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Citizens Union

Rebuilding NYC

A Conversation With Alexander Garvin


On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, Gotham Gazette held a live chat with Alex Garvin, lead planner of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Find out what he said during our conversation as Garvin fielded questions from readers about rebuilding.

Gotham Gazette: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming to Gotham Gazette’s first live chat event. Our guest today is Alex Garvin, the lead planner for the rebuilding effort at the World Trade Center site. Good afternoon, Mr. Garvin.

Alex Garvin: Good afternoon!

GG: We’ll start with our first question. Mr. Garvin, your title is the Vice President for Planning, Design and Development of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. What exactly is your job? What are you responsible for? What aren't you responsible for?

AG:I go to meetings, live and online. I answer the telephone. I sign my name and make decisions. But actually, I have to coordinate the participation of all the stakeholders in Lower Manhattan so that the decisions that are taken and the structures that go up will provide a proper remembrance of the events of 9/11; restore Lower Manhattan as quickly as possible; and trigger the revival of Lower Manhattan. I'm not responsible for actually building and neither is the LMDC.

GG: So what is the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation responsible for?

AG:Our mission is rememberance, restoration and revitalization for the entire area south of Houston

GG: Alex Butziger, from Hamburg, Germany, and "tbarzilai" say they want to see the twin towers rebuilt as they were. In fact, in the latest New York Times/CBS poll, twenty-five percent of New Yorkers say they want buildings on the site at least as tall as the twin towers. Is there any possibility of this happening?

AG:New York is a city of possibilities, and our job is to ensure that the most wonderful possibilities happen.

GG: Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff said there is "zero chance" of this happening.

AG:The residents of the New York metropolitan area want their skyline back. How we restore a presence on that skyline remains to be seen, but restore a presence on that skyline we will.

GG: In the New York Times poll, another twenty-six percent say they want the entire site as a memorial, which is what some victims' families say. Is there any chance of that happening?

AG:We are going to rebuild New York in a way which recognizes the events of 9/11, but that rebuilding has to be great. We are holding a public event at the Javits Center on July 20 to receive more public input on alternatives for the site. We will also be holding public hearings through the fall, to hear the public's ideas.

GG: The people who asked this question want to know if a memorial taking up all sixteen acres has been ruled out.

AG:It isn't a matter of size, it's a matter of appropriately honoring the victims, the survivors, the rescuers and the families of all three.

GG: What rebuilding project in history or in the world comes closest to the rebuilding after September 11th, and what lessons can we learn from it?

AG:Rebuilding downtown Warsaw after World War II. The choices that the people of Poland made had a symbolic aspect. They said they would not permit the Nazis to determine what happened in their city. We will not permit criminals to determine what happens in our city.

GG: Everybody agrees the process of rebuilding should involve public participation. But it isn't clear what that actually means - how much this is just lip service, and how much the public will really be involved.

AG:We at the LMDC are dedicated to listening to everybody -- we want the best ideas, and we will work with the Port Authority and all our partners to see whether those ideas are feasible, and affordable, and if they are -- we will present them to the public for comment.

GG: The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation held a public hearing in late May. What did you learn from that public hearing? Did anything surprise you?

AG:We learned that the overwhelming bulk of people who came wanted something great. I had been going to public meetings for a long time. I don't surprise easily. What impressed me was the intensity of feeling. People really care.

GG: There is so much emotion involved in this rebuilding, this is so important to so many people. Can this project meet expectations?

AG:We are going to do our best to see that the very highest expectations are realized. One of our Principles For Action is to promote sustainability and excellence in design. We issued these Principles in March and they will guide the action's of the LMDC. After receiving public input on the Principles and Blueprint during the last few months, we will be issuing the final version this month.

GG: Erma asks: Can a great work of architecture be built in an "open and inclusive process?" or does New York need a Robert Moses, a kind of "czar for rebuilding," for this project?

AG:Central Park was built by New Yorkers in an open public process.

GG: In your previous edition of The American City: What Works, What Doesn't, you say that there are six ingredients for the success of any project. You label them market, location, design, financing, entrepreneurship, and time. Could you go through those, and explain how they apply to the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Let's start with market

AG: The second edition, revised and expanded, will be published later this month -- I hope everyone goes out and buys it! On to the market: Our goal is to increase the size of the market served by Lower Manhattan, and that means we need to increase accessibility by ferry, by subway, by rail, so that more people can come to Lower Manhattan.

Now I'll speak about location: Lower Manhattan is blessed by an extraordinary waterfront. One of the things we need to do is to improve accessibility to the waterfront and to provide the maximum number of water-related activities for the people who come to the waterfront.

Now design: Design is not a matter of style. Styles come and go. We have to rebuild Lower Manhattan for the ages. The aspects of design that are important have to do with the arrangement of the components in Lower Manhattan. That means, that where we put additional train or subway service has a great impact on the surrounding properties, so we must be careful in arranging the different public investments that will be made. In addition, we need a great public realm. The buildings that will be built, will be built on this public realm framework. That realm consists of mass transit, streets, squares, parks, bicycle trails, walks...all the places that attract the public.

On to finance. We are very lucky that the President of the US has committed more that $21 billion to the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan - without this we would be in serious trouble. There will be insurance proceeds that can be used to help finance the rebuilding. From the money from Washington, we are already providing assistance to families and individuals iving in Lower Manhattan. As a result, the vacancy rates in Battery Park City and the rest of lower Manhattan have dropped precipitously.

I keep hearing about Robert Moses, who was a great entrepreneur. He had partners, including Mayor Laguardia. Everyone forgets that entreprenuership involves coordinating and inspiring great numbers of people The LMDC, in particular Lou Tomson, our President, is doing his best in inspiring the stakeholders and making it possible for us to use the money from Washington intelligently.

Finally, there is time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and Lower Manhattan will not be rebuilt in a year. We must proceed as quickly as possible, but we cannot sacrifice greatness. That's why we are starting by restoring subway service. The 1-9 train will be functioning by November '01, and the PATH train will be operational by the fourth quarter of 2003. We are beginning with infrastructure. The same is true of our work to see that Con Edison could rebuild its power station by the middle of 2003. These are the beginnings of what will be a long term process, and we are very aware of the need for speed.

GG: mumford asks: How do you expect the plans will address areas like Chinatown and Lower East Side?

AG:We've already announced grants to residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We are devoting most of our attention these first few months to the site of the World Trade Center. As the months go by, we will be working with the residents to create the kind of programs that are suited to those historic neighborhoods.

That was a good question.

GG: Michael Kuo asks: How will you open up and connect the various train lines without tearing down businesses around Ground Zero?

AG:Well, Michael, we don't have to because as we speak the 1-9 is being rebuilt. And there are no residences or businesses anywhere near it. The same is true of the PATH station.

GG: What about the area on Broadway between Fulton and John Streets? A New York Post article mentioned the possibility of having to raze that block to build a transportation hub.

AG:We wrote in our Blueprint that we would examine four possible locations for the PATH station and/or a transit hub. This July, we will be issuing materials that will explain the cost and time involved in each of those alternatives.

GG: nivel asks how PATH rebuilding will not have an impact on Greenwich Village.

AG:I don't understand the question -- Greenwhich Village is a long way from the station.

GG: There is a large protest -- signs in store windows etc. -- about the rebuilding of the PATH train on Christopher Street, and how it will demolish some historic buildings in the neighborhood.

AG:I am not familiar with this situation, but will try to understand what the protest is about.

GG: Is a downtown transportation hub a bigger priority than a project like the Second Avenue subway?

AG:The Second Avenue subway is underway. The transit hub is a proposal. I read the Lexington Ave subway every day -- no one can tell me that the Second Avenue subway is not a priority! Ride, that is!

GG: megalopolis asks: what types of new businesses does Mr. Garvin hope to attract to Lower Manhattan? Is there anything that can be done to attract those specific businesses and industries?

AG:There are a lot of cultural institutions that would like to move to Lower Manhattan that could bring a good deal of activity and charm. They also supply customers at times that there are fewer people working in Lower Manhattan. I think we need a wider variety of retail businesses.

GG: What kinds of businesses?

AG:As I said, a wider variety of retail businesses and cultural attractions.

GG: Some in our audience have questions about specific ideas for the site. Can you comment on some of these?

AG:Yes

GG: One of the ideas reportedly drawn up by Larry Silverstein’s architect is a 110-story tower with the top 40 floors as an empty glass space

AG:I have read about this, but have not seen the proposal, and I never comment on things I haven't seen.

GG: Another idea: Charles Schumer has called for the United Nations downtown

AG:I have heard of this proposal and we're looking into it.

GG: Yet another: Hillary Clinton would like to see a biotech research center

AG:I have also heard of this proposal, and it is under consideration. In our Blueprint, point number 14 calls for the development of Lower Manhattan as a center for biotech companies coordinated with the city's many medical research centers, medical schools and hospitals.

GG: Will a large shopping mall be included?

AG:Westfield Corp leased the retail component of the World Trade Center and they have proposals of this sort. As I said before, we need a greater variety of retail businesses in Lower Manhattan, this is one way to get them.

GG: Everyone says they want to build something "great" downtown. As one member of the audience, John K, asks, what is "greatness?"

AG:Well, John, I bet your notion of greatness is different from your neighbor's. However, we will all know it when we see it.

GG: When and where have you seen greatness?

AG:I grew up in Central Park -- that is greatness.

GG: Now our last question: briggy asks, How will the public be able to continue to have input into the plans as things move forward?

AG: Well, as I mentioned earlier, we are co-sponsoring an event on July 20. It will be held in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and will use interactive technologies and face-to-face dialogue to consider plans for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. To register for the Listening To The City event, please call 1-800-862-3154 or visit http://www.listeningtothecity.org. Thank you - this was fun.

GG: Thank you, Mr. Garvin. It looks like our time is up. Thanks again, Mr. Garvin, for taking this opportunity to answer everyone’s questions. Thanks to everyone else who participated in the chat. If you have a question that was not answered during today’s chat, please email it to rebuilding@gothamgazette.com and we will pass it along to our guest. A transcript of this chat will be available online later today.

###

The Last $1.2 Billion


International attention has focused on the dramatic architectural plans for the World Trade Center site, and the unprecedented outpouring of public desire to be involved in key decisions. But, until now, there has not been much focus on the funds allocated by Congress to revitalize the New York economy.

In the months after the terrorist attacks, Congress and the Bush administration gave $21.5 billion in aid to New York. It was a good deal less than we lost. It did not include, for example, compensation for the lost tax revenue, a standard part of federal relief in hurricanes or floods, which in New York would have amounted to $8.8 billion.

Restricted Only By Geography

Legally, the $1.2 billion remaining in federal rebuilding funds can be used for virtually any kind of revitalization, as long as it is directed at the area below Canal Street-including the Financial District, Battery Park City, much of Chinatown, Tribeca, and the part of the Lower East Side below Canal.

Some groups have argued that this is too narrow a definition of what areas were affected by the attacks. "I don't understand what part of Lower East Side doesn't sound like Lower Manhattan, quipped Barbara Caporale, of the Rebuild with a Spotlight on the Poor Coalition.

To change the zone would require an amendment to federal legislation, a step favored by a number of advocacy groups.

But $2.7 billion of the money came in the form of cash that can be used for virtually any purpose in revitalizing Lower Manhattan. The first $1.5 billion was spent primarily on grants to attract and retain businesses and residents, as well as business recovery grants.

Today, $1.2 billion in federal funds remains.

The chance to figure out how to spend this money brought 150 regular New Yorkers together last week, at a forum sponsored by the Fiscal Policy Institute and Regional Plan Association. They debated a range of ideas about where the money might go. There is widespread concern, though, that many of these ideas may not get the attention they deserve. When it comes down to it, the only vote that counts is that of Governor George Pataki.

The governor has been evasive in recent months, but last August, the Daily News reported that the governor's vote was as good as cast: "The only significant pot of flexible federal aid now available is $1.2 billion held by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Gov. Pataki has vowed to use all of it for a rail link to Kennedy Airport."

The public sees it differently. There are several alternatives that it prefers to the rail link:

Community Services and Facilities: include investments in parks, streetscape improvements, daycare facilities, libraries, health screening, and "Liberty Jobs" that would put people to work right away, at the same time as providing needed services.

Housing: Investments in housing could include building new, mixed-income housing, making lower Manhattan affordable to a range of New Yorkers; and preserving existing affordable housing, to prevent current residents from being priced out of the neighborhood.

Local Economic Development: Efforts could include providing affordable space to start-ups and small businesses, subsidizing wages, job training and career development, English classes, special events or marketing campaigns to attract visitors to the neighborhoods, and work with business, labor and government representatives to focus on entire business sectors, instead of focusing assistance at dealmaking with individual businesses."

Arts & Culture: Initiatives could include the financing of the much-discussed cultural buildings that have been proposed for the World Trade Center site, community arts institutions in other areas of Lower Manhattan (such as a Children's Theater or a Chinatown cultural & community center), a "NYC WPA for artists" to provide direct employment in the arts, or grants to commission artworks for historical groups, schools, libraries, or other downtown institutions.

MAKING THE CHOICE

Participants at last week's forum heard from an array of experts and community members presenting options about where the money might go and how much it would buy in each category of spending (pdf format). They were then given 12 gold coins, each representing $100 million, and asked to vote with their pocketbooks for how they think the money should be spent.

The clear consensus of the evening was that a tunnel could suck all the money away from other priorities and still be far from having a viable financing plan. This is consistent with public opinion as expressed in many different ways -- a poll of downtown residents released last week , a resolution passed last summer by Community Board 1, the public input at Listening to the City (pdf format), Imagine New York (in pdf format), , and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's own neighborhood outreach meetings (pdf format) from the summer of 2003.

Not everyone who opposes the use of this money for the tunnel is against the project itself, especially if it can be done in a way that adds subway service in Brooklyn and Queens, rather than taking away from it. "The rail link can be a very important project for the city and region if it is done properly and serves a variety of markets," Jeffrey M. Zupan, Senior Fellow for Transportation at the Regional Plan Association and one of the city's foremost experts on the subject, said at Tuesday's meeting. "What's becoming clear, though, is that the community development funds may not be an appropriate funding source for the project."

Still, when the voting was in, the JFK link ranked last in order of importance. The participants gave $468 million to mixed-income housing, $276 million to local economic development, $204 million to community services and facilities, and $180 to arts and culture.

They wanted to give only $72 million to connect JFK and the Long Island Rail Road to lower Manhattan.

David Dyssegaard Kallick is senior fellow of the Fiscal Policy Institute, and coordinator of the Labor Community Advocacy Network.

Latest Economics News


Gotham Gazette Articles

9/11 Money Troubles (02/03/03)
As authorities draw closer to deciding on a final design for Ground Zero, some wonder whether there is money to make any of the lofty plans a reality. Despite federal aid, the money problems 9/11 created continue to multiply. Families of victims say the federal funds set aside to compensate them are being distributed unfairly. Downtown businesses say they have not received the help they need. Politicians fight over the rebuilding funds. Can the city untangle the confusion and get the money it needs?

Housing Downtown (10/06/02)
A debate is growing about what kind of housing should be built downtown. Washington gave the city $1.6 billion in bonds to spend on housing in lower Manhattan, and many say the aid should be used to counter New York City's affordable housing shortage. Gov. Pataki and others say requiring a significant percentage of apartments be set aside for low and middle income New Yorkers may mean nothing gets built.

Transcript of Live Chat About Housing (10/06/02)
Read a transcript of our live chat with Ron Shiffman of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development and Frank Braconi, executive director of the non-profit research organization Citizens Housing and Planning Council.

Transcript of Online Debate About Economic Rebuilding After 9/11 (09/30/02)
Read the transcript of the online discussion featuring Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York and Steve Malanga of the City Journal, where they talked about how federal funds should be spent for rebuilding downtown, whether or not there should be housing at Ground Zero, and other issues of economic rebuilding.

City Budgeting After September 11 (09/10/02)
Glenn Pasanen writes about the two major consequences for New York City budgeting: exacerbating the problems New York City already had with the budget deficit, and the decline of democratic decision-making in the budget process while issues of downtown redevelopment are explored.

What's the Formula for Prosperity? (08/12/02)
The latest Bloomberg administration idea to attract jobs and investment to New York City is a land swap that would give up two city airports in exchange for city control of the World Trade Center site. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff are also jockeying to play host to the Olympics and build a new stadium on the West Side. A look at the pros and cons of these and other Bloomberg administration moves to restore New York's economy.

The Impact of Terrorism on New York City Finances - October 2001
Glenn Pasanen, director of CityProject, takes a look at what the September 11 attacks mean for the city government's finances.

 

Latest News

As Charitable Funds Expire, Questions About Long-Term Needs Remain - Sep 9, 2004
An astonishing $3 billion was raised to help the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and nearly all that money has been spent, the bulk of it handed over in cash grants, some without regard to financial need. Three years later, some are wondering whether this was the best way to make use of this unprecedented charitable windfall. (New York Times )

Trade Center Veterans Plan Cooperative Restaurant - Sep 7, 2004
Memory can make a bitter dish, but a group of 50 waiters, cooks and busboys who once worked at the Windows on the World restaurant are intent on honoring 73 colleagues who died when the twin towers collapsed by opening what may be New York's first cooperatively owned restaurant. (New York Times )

Cantor Fitzgerald Sues Saudi Arabia Over 9/11 - Sep 4, 2004
Cantor Fitzgerald, the brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 attack, has sued Saudi Arabia, charging that the kingdom "provided funding and material support and substantial assistance" to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. (New York Times )

September 11 Fund Prepares to Close - Aug 31, 2004
The September 11th Fund will close in December, having awarded more than $500 million in grants to 100,000 people affected by the 2001 terrorist attacks. (Associated Press)

9/11 Aid for Small Businesses Going Unused - Aug 30, 2004
With four months remaining in a 9/11 program intended to pour $155 million into small businesses that move to or stay in Lower Manhattan, a third of the money remains to be awarded or pledged. (New York Times )

Religious Group Call for More Aid to 9/11 Victims, Families - Aug 30, 2004
A local religious organization says it wants more help for victims and families of 9/11. (NY1)

Comptroller Warns of Shortfall in Federal 9/11 Aid - Aug 25, 2004
Comptroller William Thompson asserted Tuesday that the city may not receive as much as $5.2 billion in World Trade Center aid. In a report issued days before the start of the Republican National Convention here, Thompson says the funding is in jeopardy because of long-term delays and a "failure to monitor the progress" of parts of the aid package. (Newsday)

Twelve Ways to Improve the FDNY


fdny

September 11, 2001 made it clear that steps should be taken to help New York City firefighters do their jobs more safely and effectively. After spending 42 years of service with the Fire Department of New York, I have twelve specific recommendations.

1. Without radio communication, officers cannot command and control firefighters' response to a fire or an emergency. New York City firefighters need antennas installed in high rise buildings to enhance the signal of their portable radios. Fire officers in New York City need portable radios that transmit messages from the lobby to the roof, and from the lobby to the lowest cellar of a high-rise building.

2. The department needs a firefighter tracking system so officers can better supervise and control the movements of firefighters during smoky building fires. The current protective alarm signaling system (called "PASS" alarm) only reacts when a firefighter is trapped or unconscious. The fire service needs a tracking system that can keep firefighters from being trapped in the first place and would allow the officer in command to know the locations of every firefighter in a smoke-filled high-rise building.

3. To improve and coordinate officer command at fires, New York City fire officers should attend incident commander training at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. New York City fire chiefs and company officers rarely attend the school, which is the nation's top training academy.

4. To help them analyze a fire in a high-rise building after they arrive on the scene, firefighters need helicopters. From a helicopter, firefighters can size up fire and smoke on the upper floors of a burning high-rise building, rescue people trapped on the roof and spray a thousand gallons of water into the building's upper floors. The Los Angeles Fire Department has six helicopters and dispatches two to every high-rise fire.

5. New York City firefighters need new fireboats to help them respond to fires in buildings near the waterfront. After the World Trade Center collapsed, the water main and hydrants were buried and broken. One of the fireboats that supplied water to the fire department on September 11, 2001 was the John J. Harvey, a boat that was sold for scrap metal several years ago. The fire department used to have nine large fireboats protecting the waterways. Today they have two.

6. Firefighters in New York City also need new self-contained "rebreathing" masks. The fire service has used the same 35-pound mask since the 1950s, a mask that, according to the New York City medical division only supplies air for eight to 15 minutes. Firefighters need a lightweight mask that weighs 10 or 15 pounds and can provide two hours of breathable air.

7. The fire department needs an officer and five firefighters on every engine company responding to a high-rise fire. Today engine companies in New York City with only four firefighters must wait for another company to arrive before they can position the four lengths of hose that is necessary to extinguish a high-rise fire in a large open floor.

8. To improve training, New York firefighters need a computerized virtual simulator to make training more realistic. Virtual simulators are used to train people to bring ships into the port of New York and for landing planes at New York airports.

9. The fire department also needs robots. Robots could be used to attack fires in superheated atmospheres and search for hazardous material. The eighth annual firefighting robot competition was recently held in Hartford, Connecticut.

10. The department should have a computerized dispatch system that can warn the first firefighters to respond about hazardous building construction and materials. For example, the World Trade Center had a lightweight, steel bar floor construction with truss joints that collapsed. Those who first responded to the scene were not warned about this construction. Many hazards are discovered by firefighters during fire-prevention inspections, and firefighters should know about them before they arrive at a fire.

11. To improve rescues at fires in high-rise buildings, the fire department should have high-rise tower ladders. The maximum reach of a tower ladder in New York City is 75 feet, a height that does not extend to the roofs of many Manhattan apartment houses, let alone a high-rise building. The New York City fire department used to have 100-foot towers, but they were eliminated in the 1990s.

12. Finally, there is also a specific way to improve the command structure for firefighters in one area of the city: central Harlem. The New York fire department should return Harlem's Fifth Division headquarters back to service. Since the division was eliminated in the 1990s, the community of upper Manhattan from 110 Street to 207 Street has had no centralized command.

Vincent Dunn a retired New York deputy fire chief, teaches about fire protection and firefighting strategy at Manhattan College, John Jay College and the National Fire Academy.

Latest Security News


Gotham Gazette Articles

Security in NYC(03/24/03)
As the United States invasion of Iraq intensifies, New Yorkers are faced with competing concerns. In Operation Atlas and the Security of New York, Julia Vitullo-Martin details the city's vulnerability to attack, and analyzes the efforts to defend it. (Also, in An Assessment Of The Threat From Al Qaeda, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna summarizes the debriefing he gave to the New York Police Department.) In Special Registration, Chaleampon Ritthichai focuses on one security measure that critics say has gone too far.

The Fire Department's Lessons From 9/11 (09/23/02)
On September 11, 2001 the New York Fire Department was hampered by organizational and equipment failures, according to a report by McKinsey. A major point of the study was that the fire department's radios and other communications equipment did not work reliably. Last week commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told the City Council that it may take several years to fix the problem.

Monica Gabrielle of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, whose husband Rich died in the attacks, asks why the city has yet to address some of the simple lessons learned that day. Retired deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn details 12 ways he believes firefighters could do their job more safely and effectively.

Civil Liberties Since 9/11
Andy Humm, columnist covering civil rights for Gotham Gazette, writes about the state of civil liberties in New York City, including workplace discrimination, police harrassment, and reactions within schools.

Are New Yorkers Any Safer? (09/10/02)
72 percent of New Yorkers believe another terrorist attack is very or somewhat likely. Julia Vitullo-Martin explores the question of whether or not New Yorkers are any safer a year after the September 11 attacks.

Security In New York (02/25/02)
Nearly six months after the terrorist attacks, security remains a national priority and a local one as well. But has all the beefed-up security actually made us safer? And what has been the cost, in dollars and in other ways?

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Security (02/25/02)
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly testifies for the first time about the steps the department is taking "to restore both the sense and the reality of security in New York."

 

Latest News

Fundraising For Memorial Has Yet to Begin - Sep 11, 2004
Eight months after the World Trade Center memorial design was unveiled, Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have yet to find a prominent person willing to lead the foundation that's raising the money to build it. (New York Daily News)

Bush Now Supports Larger Role for New Intelligence Post - Sep 9, 2004
President Bush said on Wednesday that he wanted to give a new national intelligence director "full budgetary authority,'' a sharp shift from an earlier position and an acquiescence to a major recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission. (New York Times )

New York Officials Reject New Homeland Security Funding Plan - Sep 8, 2004
A Republican plan to give New York more anti-terror funding in time to mark Saturday's 9/11 anniversary hit a wall yesterday after Mayor Bloomberg and other lawmakers said the proposal is useless. (New York Post )

Trade Center Veterans Plan Cooperative Restaurant - Sep 7, 2004
Memory can make a bitter dish, but a group of 50 waiters, cooks and busboys who once worked at the Windows on the World restaurant are intent on honoring 73 colleagues who died when the twin towers collapsed by opening what may be New York's first cooperatively owned restaurant. (New York Times )

Despite Terror Concerns, New York Builds Glass Skyscrapers - Sep 6, 2004
Defying concerns after the attack on New York three years ago that post-9/11 construction would be dominated by brute concrete bunkers, the designers of significant new public and private buildings in the city are turning again and again to glass facades. (New York Times )

Bloomberg, Thanking Bush for Help After 9/11, Gets Mixed Reception at Convention - Aug 31, 2004
Former Democrat Mayor Bloomberg yesterday welcomed Republicans to their convention, removing any doubt about where his political allegiances lie. He threw his support behind President Bush and thanked the GOP for aiding New York in the wake of 9/11. (New York Post )

City Security is Ready for Convention, Says Homeland Security Chief - Aug 26, 2004
"The city is secure." That was the message from Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge during a Republican National Convention security briefing at NYPD Headquarters yesterday. (New York Post )

Famous Works by the Six New Design Teams Picked For Ground Zero


Six design teams, made up of architects, artists and designers from around the world, were chosen last week by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to create new plans for the World Trade Center site. Many of those selected are known for creating celebrated buildings, such as the glass domed Reichstag in Berlin and the stark white High Museum building in Atlanta. Others have already created designs for the World Trade Center site, in response to requests from the Max Protech Gallery in Soho and the New York Times Magazine.

The first six plans for the site, designed by New York firm Beyer Blinder Belle, were largely panned by the public, and the new teams are part of the development corporation's attempt to begin again.

Each team will create several different plans for Ground Zero, to be narrowed down to three final plans by the end of the year. While the first round of six plans appeared very similar because each included the 11 million square feet of office space required by developer Larry Silverstein, the new teams will instead create designs based on more flexible requirements. The Port Authority has yet to approve the range of office space for the new designs, but Lower Manhattan Development Corporation official Roland Betts said that the amount will stretch from "substantially reduced" at the bottom end up to the full 11 million square feet.

The six teams:

Read about each design team, to learn about their ideas for lower Manhattan, and to see photos of their past work.

Daniel Libeskind

Berlin architect Daniel Libeskind designed his city's Jewish Museum, which opened in 2001. The center of the museum is an empty space, suggesting Berlin's missing Jewish citizens, Libeskind explains on his website. Visitors use sixty bridges to cross from exhibit to exhibit.

In his application to design lower Manhattan, Libeskind wrote that the "act of building is an entirely optimistic one," something that New York deserves, "despite and because of the tragedy of September 11."

Foster and Partners

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, London firm Foster and Partners created an updated parliament building for a unified Germany. Spiral walkways line a new dome on top of the renovated Reichstag, and the public can observe their political representatives from above.

For lower Manhattan, Foster and Partners said they will work to create a design to become "a symbol once again for the city itself and the optimism and cohesiveness of the inhabitants of New York City and the American people."

Meier, Eisenman, Gwathmey and Holl

The development corporation also chose a team of four New York architects:

Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl. The four all worked together on the

New York Times Magazine's project to design the World Trade Center site. Meier is known for designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta

Meier, Eisenman, Gwathmey and Holl (2)

Charles Gwathmey designed the project to restore and add on to New York City's Guggenheim Museum, while Peter Eisenman is known for his convention center in Columbus, Ohio.

Holl's Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland (pictured here) was built around a focal point called a "kiasma," said to be the starting place for a journey to the unknown.

In their submission to create a design for lower Manhattan, the team responded to the physical and political struggles involved, saying that they view design as a process that transforms "problem-solving into art."

UNITED ARCHITECTS

"Ground Zero is the last place any of us want to think about as a 'project,' the last place any of us want to see 'developed' in that cynical shortsighted manner that the word has come to mean. And now it has to be the first question," the team of young international designers and architects UNITED ARCHITECTS wrote in their proposal to design the World Trade Center site.

The team is made up of Reiser Umemoto and Kevin Kenon, both based in New York, London-based firm Foreign Office Architects, UN Studio from Amsterdam, Greg Lynn FORM from Los Angeles and Imaginary Forces, based both in New York and Los Angeles.

Foreign Office Architects, designers of the Yokohama International Port Terminal in Japan, created a plan for the World Trade Center site soon after the disaster (pictured). The plan, which depicts clusters of round, interconnected towers rising into the sky, was shown in January at the Max Protech Gallery in Soho.

Skidmore Owings and Merrill

New York firm Skidmore Owings and Merrillredesigned 7 World Trade Center for developer Larry Silverstein. In order to work for the development corporation, the firm agreed to turn down any future work for Silverstein. The firm has designed many New York City buildings, including the Time Warner/AOL building in construction near Columbus Circle (pictured).

In its application to design the World Trade Center site, Skidmore created a team they called "both global and local," joining with architects, artists and designers, including Inigo Maglano-Ovalle, Rita McBride, Jessica Stockholder, Elyn Zimmerman, Field Operations, Tom Leader, Michael Maltzan, Neutelings Riedijk and the Tokyo firm SANAA.

THINK

A team of nine architects and engineers from the U.S., Japan and Germany submitted an application under the name "THINK."

"The central problem of this project is not simply how best to remember those that perished in this tragedy but how to make their memory the inspiration for a better future," wrote the team in their application to the development corporation. New York architect Frederic Schwartz, called "citizen architect" by the New York Times, leads the team. Schwartz was one of the first to suggest burying West Street as part of rebuilding lower Manhattan, and has done a great deal of work downtown. The Schwartz-designed Staten Island Ferry Terminal is still in construction

THINK (2)

Other members of the THINK team are Shigeru Ban, from Tokyo, Japan, New York based architects Ken Smith, Rafael Vinoly and David Rockwell, William Moorish from Virginia, Jane Marie Smith from Maryland and engineering firms Buro Happold Engineersand Jorg Schlaich.

Along with Schwartz, Vinoly participated in the New York Times Magazine's project to design lower Manhattan. He designed the Tokyo International Forum in Japan.

The Winning Plan


The design by architect Daniel Libeskind featuring a 1,776-foot spire and an open pit where the twin towers once stood was chosen Wednesday night as the final plan for the World Trade Center site. The plan also features a museum at the site and structures that will create memorial spaces free of shadows each September 11. The single spire will be the tallest structure in the world.

Rebuilding officials selected the Libeskind design over the twin latticework towers by the THINK architect team. The choice was made by a committee with representatives of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the governor and the mayor. Both Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg favored the Libeskind design. Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Chairman John Whitehead reportedly telephoned Libeskind with the news, telling the architect that his "vision has brought hope and inspiration to a city still recovering from a terrible tragedy."

The plan still faces challenges from government officials, developers, and victims families and will likely be modified.

Libeskind said his plan was the "bargain basement" in cost and estimated his design could be built for $330 million. However, it is still unclear how the memorial will be paid for, when the buildings will be built, and whether the final towers will look like those in the design. Developer Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease on the World Trade Center site, has said he does not like the plan.

Libeskind has spent the last month making changes to his design based on recommendations from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and other officials. His original design called for a memorial at the trade center foundation 70 feet below ground. That has been changed to 30 feet, allowing for infrastructure and transportation underneath.

The final plan was selected from nine proposals for redeveloping the trade center site, where nearly 2,800 people died September 11, 2001. The design competition was launched after an initial set of plans, released in July, was rejected by the public and officials.

Pause, Reflect, Respect


On the same day that the mayor and the governor announced the creation of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation, the chief of the Uniformed Firefighters Association was arrested while en route to the funeral of a firefighter killed on September 11. The crime? He participated in a demonstration of hundreds of firefighters protesting the move to reduce their involvement in the remaining recovery operation. The anger and emotion of the firefighters has touched raw nerves from firehouses to neighborhoods throughout the city and suburbs and should give pause to premature plans to rebuild.

Is the city truly ready to rev up the engines for redevelopment just yet? Are any of us prepared to let the bulldozers have their way with missing limbs, shards of bone, and personal effects? Less than three months after a murderous attack of unprecedented ferocity that forever changed the way we live, should the solemnity of this operation cease?

The literature of these recent weeks suggests not. The poignant "Portraits of Grief" in the New York Times themselves comprise an unfinished documentary: memories of lives snuffed out in their prime; of shock and numbness yet to mature into grief; of incredulity at the permanence of the loss. The families speak of the dead in the present tense: their passions for music, for e-mail joking, cooking, coaching and loving.

History provides further cause for reflection. Just a few years ago, a lawsuit temporarily halted the construction of a new federal building in lower Manhattan when excavation uncovered an African-American burial ground. For months the public debated how to best respect the century old gravesite and give it its due place in history, until ultimately a memorial was erected.

In 1995, after the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the community and the victims' families agreed to the now-famous rows of empty chairs, yet the process through which consensus emerged evolved over time, from an initial we'll-show'em urge to rebuild bigger and better.

Over a half century ago, the Polish government decided that the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau would be left intact as a reminder to the world of the consequences of unchecked human evil. There would be no demolition, no removal of debris, no rebuilding. Since then, millions have traveled to see these ruins. My husband and two of our children made this pilgrimage two years ago. We walked through more than 500 acres of ruins, at every turn acknowledging that no book or movie had ever captured the sickening reality of the barracks, crematoria and endless pools of human ashes. How grateful we were for this preservation, for the refusal to demolish and rebuild, for the recognition that this monstrous cemetery of the damned was hallowed ground.

The value of 16 acres of prime Manhattan real estate sixty years later may not compare to the countryside outside of Krakow. Yet how a civilized people should treat the soil upon which such a deliberate and grievous taking of life occurred remains a serious consideration. Fifty years from now, how will we want the world to remember what happened to New York City on September 11, 2001?

Most importantly, whatever is built should be the result of an open and inclusive decision-making process. The terrorists' attack on the Trade Center was hardly directed at its bricks and mortar; those planes were intended to tear apart our way of life: our pluralism, our diversity and our democracy.

To start, the redevelopment corporation would be wise to pay attention to an emerging coalition of more than a dozen civic and community groups who are presently articulating critical questions, the answers to which will set a pattern for development in this city for generations:

What overarching vision will govern the development process? How will it respect the health and diversity of neighborhoods and assure environmentally- conscious construction? What can be done expeditiously to salvage and restore existing buildings, homes and businesses and to immediately protect local residents from toxic air pollutants? With an economy in recession and unemployment at new highs, how will the rebuilding best serve to create jobs beyond the relatively short-term construction work? What economic forecasting will determine future growth sectors: for what businesses are we to build anew in lower Manhattan? What about finding space for sorely needed affordable housing? What transportation, telecommunications and waste management infrastructure will be required to support the new community?

The redevelopment corporation must operate cautiously, inclusively and sensitively, lest this city's already wounded human tapestry be further frayed. The phoenix that rises up from our ashes should be symbols of our democracy, both in beauty and relevance, and in the thoughtful consensus planning that guides its development. This hallowed ground demands no less.

Nancy Biberman is president of the Women's Housing & Economic Development Corporation, which has won awards for the historic restoration of the abandoned Morrisania Hospital in the Bronx.

Working Together Toward Recovery


The New York City Partnership recently issued a sector-by-sector report on the economic impact of the September 11th attack on our City. The findings of the report are sobering. In addition to the human suffering caused by the attack, the report found that the net damage to the New York City economy is likely to be at least $16 billion. This damage, while concentrated Downtown, will result in a net loss of 57,000 jobs throughout the City by the end of 2003. The impact of the attack will be felt most in the financial services, tourism and retail industries.

In addition to describing the economic devastation caused by the attack, the report sets forth a series of recommendations as to how we should respond. It notes that we have the chance to create a new and improved Downtown while appropriately honoring the victims of September 11th. In publishing this report, the New York City Partnership has begun a conversation in which other civic organizations and the public at large must be active participants. Indeed, as the title of the report stresses, our ability to ensure that the City remains the Capital of the World depends on the capacity of the leaders of our City to keep "Working Together to Accelerate New York's Recovery." Building on the recommendations in the report, we suggest a few ways in which this can be accomplished.

We Must Work Together In The Planning Process. With our wounds still raw, civic leaders must commit to open proceedings so that New Yorkers from all five boroughs will have a voice in the reconstruction of our City. John Whitehead, the chair of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation, is appointing advisory committees to represent diverse groups such as the families of victims, local residents and local businesses. This is a great start.

But we cannot forget that the attack rippled through all of our communities and we must consider all of its effects. In "Back to Work," The Community Service Society of New York has evaluated the effects the attack had upon "working people, particularly low-wage workers, and the communities of color in all the five boroughs." In addition, Professors Dennis Derryck and Rikki Abzug at the New School University have recently outlined the negative impactof the September 11th attack on grassroots not-for-profits throughout the City. Without losing focus on Downtown, we must ensure that plans for its reconstruction are coordinated with development plans for the entire City. And, we must have a forum for these City-wide concerns to be aired and addressed as well as those concerns specific to Downtown.

Transparent proceedings relating to the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site itself are particularly important. They will go a long way toward addressing the concern that so much power is to be concentrated in a quasi-public agency, the Redevelopment Corporation. The Redevelopment Corporation will by its nature be able to bypass certain types of public review, particularly environmental review. By allowing for significant public input in the planning process, concerns that an expedited reconstruction plan are not subject to formal land use and environmental review will be met. It will also ensure that a broad segment of the public will have a strong emotional investment in the final outcome.

A broad consensus is important because we New Yorkers have a long history of allowing turf battles (look no farther than the stalled development of Governor's Island for an example) to interfere with the furtherance of our civic goals. Such turf battles can lead to significant delays in important projects. That cannot happen here. The stakes are too high for all of us. A good first step is for the leaders of both parties to publicly commit to a shared agenda for the development process and set an example of unity for other New Yorkers to follow. Indeed, knowing that Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Schumer and Clinton, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Bruno agreed on a broad outline for redevelopment would go a long way toward convincing the public that the reconstruction will proceed apace.

We Must Work Together To Act Quickly.As a result of the September 11th attacks, there is an extraordinary amount of goodwill toward our City across the country and at all levels of government. But if we do not move forward in a timely and responsible manner, much of that goodwill may dry up or be overtaken by other urgent concerns such as the war on terrorism. Not surprisingly then, the Partnership report calls for the immediate initiation of a master planning process for Downtown so that we can begin to rebuild as soon as the clean-up process permits. This is key, particularly now that the clean-up is coming to an end much sooner than we expected. We must demonstrate to the world that we are making meaningful progress on a thoughtful reconstruction plan so that others remain committed to our cause.

We Must Work Together To Build 21st Century Infrastructure.As the Partnership report indicates, the most important part of the rebuilding process will be to quickly restore the confidence of the public and of private industry in government's ability to provide the necessary security and resources that Downtown needs. As Partnership President Kathryn Wylde recently noted, legislation must be passed that empowers government agencies to facilitate the efforts of the various utilities and municipal actors to build new infrastructure efficiently.

In planning the reconstruction, we must recognize that the Downtown infrastructure was inadequate prior to September 11th. Only a well thought-out plan for the revitalization of the power, telecom and transportation systems will make Downtown attractive again and stem its ever-expanding corporate diaspora. That being the case, we ought to explore big ideas, such as the extension of MetroNorth and the Long Island Railroad to Downtown. We have the rare opportunity to build a 21st century infrastructure in the middle of an established community. Let us make the most of it.

We Must Work Together Creatively.As the report indicates, a significant portion of the focus of Downtown development must be on reestablishing the financial services sector. But, given that many believe that the City does not need many millions of additional square feet of office space in the next few years, the Redevelopment Corporation must explore creative anchors for redevelopment. The increasing importance of cultural institutions to Downtown, as evidenced by such institutions as the recently built Museum of Jewish Heritage, the forthcoming Irish Hunger Memorial and the proposed Guggenheim Museum, indicate that a cultural focus may be appropriate. The suggested move of City Opera to the Downtown area sounds like a step in the right direction.

There has already been a great deal of soul searching and creative ferment as to what type of memorial is appropriate for the hallowed ground at the World Trade Center site. Thought should also be given to the creation of a living memorial, one that responds to the depraved violence of September 11th with our fundamental values. One suggestion is to move the United Nations to Downtown. Indeed, the UN, dedicated to the eradication of violence throughout the world, might be the greatest monument of all to the victims of September 11th.

We can do something new and wonderful for the future while also honoring those we have lost. But we can only do so if we work together.

David Reiss and Mathew Kleiner are New York natives. Reiss, a real estate lawyer at the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, was a candidate for City Council this past year. Kleiner, a former assistant district attorney, was his campaign manager.

Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress



Research shows that after most traumatic events about one in five people who are directly affected will develop long term symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These can include sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, a sense of hyper-vigilance, jumpiness and anxiety and depression.

"There are about 100,000 people in New York who were directly involved with events related to the World Trade Center attack," says Dr. Edna Foa, a professor of clinical psychology who is director of the Center for Study and Treatment of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the world's leading experts on post-traumatic stress disorder, which is called PTSD. "This includes rescue workers, people caught in the buildings, those who saw people jumping or saw pieces of bodies and people who lost loved ones. About 20 to 25 percent will have some chronic problems."

Foa and at least a dozen other major experts are concerned that some efforts to treat traumatic stress or prevent symptoms from becoming chronic can actually do more harm than good. They sent a letter discussing this problem in the wake of the disaster to the newsletter of the American Psychological Association.

For example, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation sent to New York 100 teams of up to seven members each after September 11th to offer "Critical Incident Stress Debriefings." These are one-shot group or individual sessions in which those who have experienced a traumatic event meet with a trained professional to "process" what happened -- by discussing their experiences in detail, within three days of the incident.

There are no properly controlled studies of this technique -- but a similar therapy, which involves meeting one-on-one for one session with a professional shortly after the event and discussing it explicitly is called Psychological Debriefing. This has been studied extensively -- and the results are distressing.

Of ten studies, eight showed no effect, positive or negative. But the two studies that followed patients longest found that those who had been debriefed did significantly worse. One, a 1997 study of serious burn victims, found that fourteen months after the incident, 26 percent of those who had been debriefed had post-traumatic stress symptoms -- while only nine percent of those who received no psychological intervention did.

The other study which found that those who had been debriefed did worse also looked at the relationship between people's initial reactions and their responses to the therapy. Those whose first reactions did not include many or severe symptoms did not seem to be helped or harmed by the debriefing. But those who had a strong initial reaction were much worse if they got debriefed.

"It was as if the debriefing arrested the course of natural recovery," says Foa.

So what should people do who are experiencing after-effects of the World Trade Center terrorist attack? First, says Foa, allow yourself a chance to recover on your own. There is no evidence that any type of early treatment can help -- and some that some kinds can harm -- so simply do what feels right for you.

If you are having a strong reaction to the events, it is best to talk about your emotions with friends and loved ones. Those who have little initial psychological reaction are less likely to develop symptoms than those who react strongly and experience symptoms right away. As a result, you should not try to get people to talk about it if they aren't ready -- their own methods of coping may be best for them.

Contrary to much of the advice being given by the media, watching images of the catastrophe on television may not always be harmful. "We don't really know what effect television has," says Foa, "but I would think repeated exposure would produce habituation." This could help by allowing strong reactions to diminish over time. "There's a sensitive balance," says Foa. "You don't want to obsess too much and sit inside watching TV all the time either."

As much as possible, try to get back to your normal life. Avoidance of things like the subway or tall buildings can become a habit that is difficult to break.

If symptoms do not diminish on their own after six weeks, says Foa, "That's the time to seek professional help."

Cognitive/behavioral therapy (CBT) is one technique that has been shown by a number of studies to be particularly effective. Studies comparing therapy by those trained in cognitive techniques with ordinary counseling find that CBT consistently does better. CBT involves recalling the trauma with a therapist and learning new ways of thinking about it to improve emotional coping skills. Antidepressant medication like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil can also be helpful.

There are also heavily-promoted therapies that have little evidence to support their claims. For example, much media attention has been given to a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which involves recalling the incident while a therapist moves her fingers in front of your eyes. Most research on EMDR has not been properly controlled-- and it is promoted by a group that sells training in it to therapists. Says Foa, "There are now three studies where it has been compared to exposure [a type of cognitive/behavioral therapy]. In two of the three studies, EMDR was not as effective and the third study, which was done by a proponent of EMDR showed the two were equivalent."

It is a shame that psychological treatment is so vulnerable to fads and so rarely properly researched-- and unsettling to think that some treatments can really make matters worse. To protect yourself, be sure that you know what you are getting, what the research on it shows and that it is appropriate for your needs.

Below are some websites that may be helpful:

The Revised Design




Rebuilding officials released a revised master plan for the World Trade Center site on September 17. At first glance, architect Daniel Libeskind' s revised design looks much the same as it did when first revealed in February (click here for a virtual tour of the original design), with a ring of towers rising in a spiral from south to north up to a 1,776-foot-tall spire.

But in the new version, the five towers that surround the sunken, green memorial area are slimmer, and three of them are taller. Libeskind modified the towers to make them less bulky, and allow more sunlight to shine into the site. They also allow for more retail space. Other major changes to the design include a new park at the southern end of the World Trade Center site, and reconfigurations below ground.

"I stand by all of the changes," Libeskind said when he presented the new design. "I was not forced to make them by anybody. They create spaces that are viable commercially and buildable and that recognize all the complex interests that are not only on the ground level but also what's below."



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