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Rebuilding NYC - Testimonies From The 2003 Public Hearings
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Gotham Gazette

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Citizens Union

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Rebuilding NYC






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A Virtual Declaration of War On Our Community


John Dellaportas, Coalition To Save West Street

For the last six months, we have been shouting from the hilltops, "Don't bury West Street." It will be an environmental, economic, and transportation disaster for lower Manhattan. It will waste billions of dollars that could be used for much more worthwhile projects, such as the 2nd Avenue subway. Do you want to help a few hundred cars get in and out of the Battery Tunnel everyday, or do you want to help millions of subway riders get up and down from their houses?

All of the plans have some brilliant ideas, and I am not going to comment on them. I am going to limit my comments only to West Street, because none of the nine design plans get West Street right, and none of the design plans respect the community's wishes for West Street. All incorporate plans they call "decks" and "underpasses" - call them what they will, these are tunnels. The community has said no to a tunnel. We won't have it.

Finally, I'd like to single out one plan in particular which gets West Street so horribly wrong that adopting the plan would be a virtual declaration of war on our community, and that is the Peterson/Littenberg [plan]. In order to build this ridiculous 150-wide hiking trail for tourists in the middle of West Street, large enough so Batttery Park City community gardens, children's playgrounds, trees and lawns would be up and paved over. The FDR connection by the underpass would be buried, the intersection between Liberty Street and West Street would be turned into a giant traffic circle that would be impossible for pedestrians to cross. It is just a really, really bad idea. If you pick any of the plans please not that one.

Finally, a message. This is our home. We know what is best for the community. We know what's best for our neighborhood. Please don't try to turn lower Manhattan into a downtown Disneyland. The tourists will come, but tourists have always come here, and will always come. We don't need to build a hiking trail for them.

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