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Rebuilding NYC - Testimonies From The 2003 Public Hearings
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Rebuilding NYC






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Don't Acknowledge Bin Laden As Your Urban Planner


Andrew Oliff, a Manhattan doctor

On September 11, 2001, evil men had a vision to attack the United States at the heart of its financial power, and the heart of its military power, and to destroy the symbol of American democracy and the seat of our government since the 1790s. The third vision failed, thanks to the bravery of those aboard Flight 93. Their call to action, "Let's roll," was the rallying cry to rebuild the Pentagon and honor those who gave their lives in D.C. and to defeat the hijackers mission. At this time the Pentagon Project Phoenix has restored our military symbol back to what it was before September 11.

Here in New York City, the vision of the terrorists, I am sad and disgusted to say, has prevailed. When they used their guided missiles in the form of hijacked planes to destroy the trade center's Twin Towers, which defined our city and were icons of America's financial and economic power, they ripped out the heart of our country's financial district and murdered nearly 3,000 people. More than one year later our center of commerce remains in ruins. And the hole in our skyline festers like an open wound upon our city. The future of downtown has been hijacked, by mawkish sentimentality, real estate industry schemers, and anti-business special interest activists. While those in charge of rebuilding have unconditionally surrendered to the vision of the terrorists and have stalled our recovery from September 11, I have followed the rebuilding debate from the beginning, and what has transpired in the last 15 months has left me ashamed to be from this city. The destruction of the World Trade Center has been taken as a signal to have an urban renewal orgy the likes of which have never been seen since the days of Robert Moses. Political pandering and involvement by competing special interest agendas have kept rebuilding locked in a zero sum game while the so-called rebuilding leaders have been dithering around for 15 months, obsessing over street life, mega-memorial extent, organic buildings, 24/7 neighborhoods, and cultural amenities, as well as transportation proposals that will benefit relatively few but waste millions. Why waste money on extending suburban lines when the Second Avenue subway and the Brooklyn Long Island railroad terminal are virtually neglected? What is the point in burying West Street? It was not much of a barrier before September 11. Why the obsession with slicing streets through the World Trade Center site, and turning it from a respite from the congestion and noise of lower Manhattan to a traffic shortcut for cars and trucks bypassing Broadway and West Street?

If you succeed in making the World Trade Center site a blank slate for urban renewal agendas, you forever acknowledge bin Laden as your urban planner. I am glad our government is now working on cloning our national icons and landmark buildings so they can be resurrected if another attack destroys them. If anything, such an action will prevent two years of "re-imagine midtown" if terrorists were to demolish our Empire State Building. So I ask you, stop wasting our time and tax-payers money, and give New York City its own Project Phoenix. The only consideration for the site should be Twin Towers, as tall or taller, with an appropriate memorial for the victims, and with similar commercial space to get jobs back to lower Manhattan.

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