Rebuilding Roundup Archive: May 2003

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Friday, May 30

At a May 28 public hearing, firefighters and their relatives told members of the jury selecting a design for the 9/11 memorial that the design must list the affiliations of fire fighters, police officers and rescue workers who died in the World Trade Center attacks. Some, holding up signs that said, "they went in together, let them stay together," said that the firefighters who died should be listed together with the members of their company, not listed alphabetically.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has said that the memorial shall be created "without hierarchy," but the memorial competition's rules do not specifically bar designers from including a victim's job, rank or title. The deadline for registering to enter the design competition was May 29. Those who registered will have until June 30 to submit their designs.

Family members of firefighters who died at the World Trade Center catastrophe are about to file a lawsuit requiring the Port Authority and other developers of the World Trade Center site to be legally bound by city fire and building codes. Those involved say the goal of the suit is not to oppose reconstruction of the World Trade Center site, but to assure that the safest possible building is built at Ground Zero. For more on the suit, see the story on Rebuilding NYC.

Friday, May 23

World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein is reportedly angling to place a fifth office tower on the World Trade Center site. Silverstein has publicly supported architect Daniel Libeskind's design for the site, which includes just four office towers, but sources told the New York Post that the developer has not abandoned a concept that his architects drew for him last year.

A recent poll found that 78 percent of lower Manhattan residents plan to stay in the neighborhood. However, only 14 percent of the people who live below Canal Street polled by Blum and Weprin Associates rated the overall quality of life downtown as "excellent," compared to the 42 percent of lower Manhattanites who gave downtown quality of life this rating before September 11, 2001. About 30 percent said that they or another household member continue to suffer from respiratory problems after the attack.

People planning to enter the World Trade Center site memorial competition have less than a week left to register. Participants must register on the competition's website or by fax to 1-800-718-5699 before May 29 in order to send in their design for the memorial. Thousands of people from all fifty states and over 70 countries have already registered.

Friday, May 16

Andrew Winters, who has replaced Alexander Garvin as head planner for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said on May 15 that rebuilding the World Trade Center site will cost approximately $10 billion. This is the first time that officials have estimated the total cost of building the design by architect Daniel Libeskind chosen in February.

At a May 14 Imagine New York workshop about transportation in lower Manhattan, over 100 people split up into small groups and weighed in on the projects planned for downtown. They debated tunneling West Street, providing a one-seat ride to the airport, and other projects. Imagine New York will put out a report on the workshop's findings in several weeks.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on May 14 that New York City will receive about $200 million in federal anti-terrorism grants. Over half of the funds will help cover the extra money that the city spent while on high terrorism alert before and during the Iraq war.

Friday, May 9

A judge has dismissed three lawsuits against the federal government's September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. The suits had charged that the federal fund, issued by Kenneth Feinberg, was unfairly putting a cap on the amount of money awarded. The judge praised Feinberg's "deep and extensive experience" in compensation cases and said that his policies are valid.

Fifty-seven percent of New York City voters think that it is a "bad idea" to build the tallest tower in the world at Ground Zero, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. "A fair number of people think it will taunt the terrorists, who will attack again," said Maurice Carroll, director of the polling institute. Governor George Pataki and rebuilding officials have committed to building a 1,776-foot tower designed by Daniel Libeskind, which would indeed be the world's tallest structure, at the site.

Federal investigators looking into the collapse of the twin towers say they believe that the Port Authority, the agency that built the towers, did not perform the basic tests to determine how the buildings would withstand a fire. According to a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology released on May 7, builders in 1969 directed contractors to coat the floor supports with a 1/2 inch of spray-on fireproofing. In 1999, the Port Authority issued guidelines to upgrade the fireproofing to one inch, but as recently as 2000, officials were still redoing it, noting that some areas could withstand only one hour in a fire.

Friday, May 2

Critics have charged that architect Daniel Libeskind's Ground Zero plaza, called the Wedge of Light, which he described as a place where the sun will "shine without shadow" each year on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, will actually be full of shadows for much of each September 11 morning. The architect Eli Attia published a critical study of Libeskind's design. In defense, Libeskind said his design will work, with facades of buildings "throwing the sunlight back into the plaza," and called Attia a "sore loser."

On April 28, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched a competition to design a memorial for the victims of 9/11 and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Competitors have until May 29 to register for the competition, and until June 30 to send in their memorial designs. Guidelines and information about the competition are posted online, at Officials said that all entries would be considered, even those that push the boundaries of the competition guidelines.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held an April 29 hearing about the new Fulton Transit Center, planned to be built at Fulton and Broadway. At the hearing, preservationists urged transportation officials to incorporate the block's historic buildings, especially the Corbin building at 11 John Street, into the plan, instead of demolishing them to make way for the station.

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