Rebuilding Roundup Archive: September 2003

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Friday, September 26

Following the recommendations of a task force that studied the collapse of the Twin Towers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed new legislation this week to improve fire safety in tall buildings. Under the legislation, new buildings would be required to follow stricter codes, including having better constructed stairwells. The proposals would also require existing buildings to meet the same fire safety standards that new buildings already follow, including having a sprinkler system.

Health Department officials said this week that more than 10,000 people have signed up for the new World Trade Center Health Registry. The registry was set up to track the health effects of the September 11 attacks over 20 years. People who lived and worked around the towers may sign up for the registry (at 866-NYC-WTCR or by taking a half-hour phone survey.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced on September 24 that a total of 112 cultural groups have submitted proposals for Ground Zero. The corporation, along with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, will now evaluate the proposals.

Friday, September 19

Rebuilding officials released a revised master plan for the World Trade Center site this week. Architect Daniel Libeskind's design now includes taller, slimmer towers and a new park south of Liberty Street. An underground security zone for delivery trucks was moved so that it is south of Ground Zero, and a parking garage for buses will be located outside of the site's 16 acres.

The mall operating company that owns the lease for retail space at the World Trade Center site, Westfield America, said this week that it is negotiating with the Port Authority to pull out of its deal for retail in the new development at Ground Zero. The company, which had balked at rebuilding officials' plans to create more stores at street level instead of along an underground concourse, is seeking a cash payment of $140 million.

More than 70 arts and cultural groups -- from El Museo del Barrio to the New York City Opera -- sent in proposals for Ground Zero before the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's deadline of September 15. The development corporation has not said when it will decide which groups to include in the museum, performing arts center and other cultural spaces set aside in the master plan for Ground Zero.

Friday, September 12

"Today, again, we are a city that mourns," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Ground Zero ceremony marking the two year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Children, relatives of those who died on that day two years ago, took turns reading the 2,792 names of the victims. Each paused after reading their portion of the list to say the name of the person that they had lost, and give them a message.

A crowd gathered at Ground Zero and lined the fence around the World Trade Center site with flowers, candles and other memorials.

An afternoon service for the 84 Port Authority employees who died in the attacks was held in Riverside Church in the Upper West Side. Vice President Dick Cheney, who avoided the Ground Zero ceremony after the mayor said the added security would inconvenience families, attended the interfaith service but did not give a speech.

The twin beams of the "Tribute in Light" were turned on at Ground Zero when the sun went down at 7:12 p.m. They shone all night.

Also during this week of commemoration, hundreds of victims' family members held a protest at Ground Zero on the day before the anniversary, saying that Governor George Pataki has not held the promise he made last June to "never build where the towers stood." Current rebuilding plans call for no building on the footprints above ground, but do include infrastructure construction below. The families say the footprints should be preserved all the way to bedrock, 70 feet below ground.

Friday, September 5

Nearly three quarters of New Yorkers believe that a World Trade Center site memorial should recognize all of the victims of 9/11 in the same manner, according to a new Newsday and New York 1 News poll. The poll also found that more than half of those surveyed personally knew a victim of the attacks or a victim's family member, and that 23 percent think that another terrorist attack in the city is likely.

City Comptroller William Thompson released a report this week saying that New York City could lose nearly $4 billion of the over $21 billion in aid that President George Bush promised the city after the September 11 attacks if federal and state agencies do not change the way they distribute funds. Thompson said that some of the deadlines for programs should be extended and that unallocated funds should be earmarked for specific purposes. The comptroller also reported this week that the city's economic losses caused by 9/11 are greater and are lasting longer than previously thought.

Officials this week urged family members of 9/11 victims to file claims with the federal victims' compensation fund before the December 22, 2003 deadline. So far, less than half of the family members who lost loved ones in the attack have filed claims with the fund, which requires those who file to waive their rights to sue the airline industry.

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