Volume 18 • Issue 51 | May 12 - 18, 2006

<<Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert
Deutsche demo demonstration

Memorial pedestrians won’t be stalled, officials say

By Ronda Kaysen

The World Trade Center memorial might be going nowhere fast, but the pedestrians milling about the memorial plaza at lunchtime in 2015 will have no trouble going anywhere, a study shows.

The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation presented findings of its pedestrian circulation study to Community Board 1 members this week, describing an hour in the life of a passerby at noon on a weekday in 2015. That hour, according to the findings, would be free flowing, unhampered by other visitors, residents and office workers passing through.

“The good news is most of the plaza is utilized in some way and most of the people are spread out,” said Suany Chough, the Memorial Foundation’s senior program and design advisor, at the May 8 meeting. “This works pretty well.”

The $160,000 study did find minor problems with where maps, signage and plantings were placed, finding that they interfered with some pedestrian flow. The signs were moved to the edges of the plaza to resolve the problem and the planters were relocated as well.

The study began last August, long before the estimates for building the Michael Arad-designed “Reflecting Absence” soared to $1 billion, according to a foundation-financed report. The day after Chough presented the findings to the community board, the foundation announced that it planned to halt fundraising until a memorial could be designed that would fit into a $500 million limit set by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki.

“We remain committed to the plaza concept,” said Michael Haberman, V.P. of community development for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., at the public meeting. L.M.D.C. is responsible for the memorial design.

The agency also intends to “preserve the essence of the design” as it goes about reconfiguring it.

The recent setbacks have not stopped preliminary construction on the memorial, Haberman said, nor have they changed the 2009 completion date yet. “We’re not anticipating any further delays.”

The foundation decided to study midday on a weekday because it is considered the most populous hour of the day — when the most residents, workers and tourists would be present. It did not study morning or evening rush hours or weekend pedestrian flows, a decision that worried several board members.

“It’s impossible to look at this without looking at it at different times of the day, it’s totally impossible,” said C.B. 1 member Peter Braus.

“When I go to get groceries, when I’m trying to get to work, [tourists] are in my way,” said C.B. 1 member and Greenwich South resident Pat Moore. “They’re milling around and not moving — they’re in our way.”

Many residents have long been skeptical that the plaza would be designed in a way that would make it easy to traverse, and the study did not appear to appease those concerns.

It is not complete yet, Chough said, although a rush hour or weekend study is not currently in the works.

Ronda@DowntownExpress.com

BBy Ronda Kaysen


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