Volume 19 | Issue 27 | November 17 - 23, 2006

Letters to the Editor

W.T.C. remnants

To The Editor:
In response to the letter written by Michael Burke (Letters, Nov. 10–16), there seems to be an internal conflict between 9/11 family members Patricia Reilly, Anthony Gardner and Michael Burke. Some of Michael Burke’s points seem confusing to me. His contention is the preservation of the Twin Tower support beams would be prohibitive. All of the stated people are not involved with the detailed cost of what this expense would be, so it is pretentious to argue cost.

One point Burke makes is that the beams have been left out in the elements for the past five years. Steel beams are pretty much weather proof. Another states that people will never stand on bedrock -- again a construction point that should be left to the contractors.

Then it gets personal. He says Patricia Reilly and Anthony Gardner want the focus to be about the anniversary of 9/11. Then he continues about how 9/11 is not just about the victims, but for all people, and only a few pieces should be restored.

This conflict should end. I know some issues are emotional but when it comes to the memorial Mr. Burke, Mr. Gardner, Patricia Reilly and I have lost our loved ones. It is hurtful to me to see brothers of victims argue. This memorial is important because our brothers’ lives were important. The remnants that were left are symbols of these souls forever gone.

Barry Zelman
Brother of Kenneth Zelman, who was killed on the 99th floor of the North Tower

To The Editor:
In June 2002, Gov. George Pataki stood before thousands of 9/11 family members and pledged to never build where the Twin Towers stood. The families cheered the announcement and redevelopment officials, who had already set the space aside for a parking garage and building infrastructure, were baffled by it.

Pataki did try to renege, but it was not a lawsuit that changed his mind as Mike Burke claims in “9/11 families don’t care about W.T.C. box beams” (Talking Point, Oct. 27 – Nov. 2).

Over the last three years, the Coalition of 9/11 Families, has worked in partnership with historic preservation groups from the local, state and national levels, within the confines of a federally-mandated historic preservation review process to identify World Trade Center remnants which contribute to the site’s historic significance.

Burke admits “bedrock is sacred ground,” but somehow he views the Twin Tower steel columns, which outline and define that “sacred” space as unworthy and a distraction. Burke may not recall discussions about the box beams but the committee he served on called for their preservation in its final recommendations. The committee advised planners to: “Convey the authenticity of the Center’s historic location by preserving and providing for reasonable and appropriate access truncated box beam column bases outlining portions of the lower ‘footprints’ of the former Twin Towers.”

Today, we continue to work with officials to ensure these remnants and the footprints they define are integrated within the architecture of the museum in a way that preserves these highly significant archeological resources and makes them accessible to the public. Their presence below will not distract, or replace, a much-needed experience of 9/11 at street level.

Burke’s anger is justified but it is misdirected. He should not be allowed to rewrite the history of a flawed memorial process. Members of the Coalition repeatedly voiced strong opposition to the plan, urging officials to incorporate tangible W.T.C. artifacts like the Sphere and the steel from the buildings into the memorial design to give 9/11 a presence at street level.

The Coalition supported the Sciame redesign, which brought the names of the dead to street level, eliminated the memorial’s underground space, and gave the museum some much needed programming space at street level. We urged leaders to provide access to bedrock, not to bury 9/11.

Anthony Gardner
Executive board member of the Coalition of 9/11 Families

Open fields

To The Editor:  
Thanks for your excellent editorial on the ballfields (Nov. 3 – 9, “Keep more of the ballfields open”).  If safety is a big concern, why isn’t North End Ave. (and the dog run and adjacent median) being closed?

I think it’s important that converting the ballfields to artificial turf remains part of the overall discussion.  Leaders of the Downtown youth sports leagues have contended that if the fields were covered with artificial turf, they would be open a lot more than they are now.  That would allow neighborhood kids to play pick-up games, especially on mild winter days.

One of the principal reasons for not changing to artificial turf is the “green policy” of the Battery Park City Authority.  While certainly admirable, the practical side of it is that kids lose out.  I think most people want to believe grass is better than turf, but there are studies that have been done on both sides of this issue, so it certainly is not clear-cut. 

If you want to go to extremes, the basketball courts in B.P.C. probably would not qualify as “green.”  And the decision to allow the commuter ferries to dock and idle at Rockefeller Park – while spewing noxious diesel fumes – does not seem very “green” to me.  If the authority truly wants to make a green statement, how about scrapping the idea for the two buildings at the edge of the ballfields?  I understand it will not happen, but one can dream.

Back to reality, the Downtown Soccer League has lost a number of games to weather, but many of those days turned beautiful later on.  In fact, on some of those days, I was at Riverside Park very early in the morning, and soccer games were still played there.  Later, as I drove down the West Side Highway, I passed games being played at Waterside Park and Pier 40 – both artificial turf fields.  Sadly, I finally passed our “museum piece” ballfields – locked up tight while the sun was shining bright.

These lost games are nearly impossible to make-up. The problem is compounded by the fact that none of the youth leagues get Mondays or Tuesdays, like we used to at the superior old fields.  The incredible amount of construction of new residential buildings means our community will be more than overwhelmed by demand for access to the ballfields. The plans to reduce the size of the fields – which will certainly become permanent later on – has us going in the exact opposite direction of what we need. 

JC Chmiel
JC Chmiel is an assistant coach in the Downtown Soccer League and has managed teams in the Downtown Little League.

Expand P.S. 89

To The Editor:
In 1966 Gov. Nelson Rockefeller unveiled a proposal that called for a “comprehensive community,” which lacked a key element: a public school.

Battery Park City did not have a public elementary school of its own until 1998, and that school was divided for use by a middle school, I.S. 89, a school our children must apply to get into. The public elementary school portion of this school is now overcapacity with over 520 students. This problem, like the overcrowding problem at P.S. 234 in Tribeca, needs immediate attention.

And new Battery Park City development is sure to bring greater overcrowding. One Rockefeller Park will soon be a 26-story condominium with 264 units. Seventy Little West St. will contain a 33-story,

500,000-square-foot, 250-unit condominium. Also, the Battery Park City Authority has announced a possible residential northern expansion by creating more landfill. P.S. 89 was not designed to accommodate a population of this size.

Our state and city governments need to free the space now taken by the upper grades by scaling them back to allow for less overcrowding.

In recent years, the city has been recommending a K-8 structure to provide a more responsible social structure for children, who have been shown to act as mentors to younger children from their neighborhood when a K-8 public school is in place. Such a structure at P.S./I.S. 89 might not only give us a more responsible middle school population, but also free some urgently needed public elementary school space for our children. P.S. 89 graduates between 40 and 60 children a year into the sixth grade and I.S. 89 holds 100 seats in each grade. If we could free 40 seats per grade for elementary school use, it would give us an additional 120 seats -- a great start to ease overcrowding.

Another solution is to lease office space and convert it into classroom space. Still, all of this would not be necessary, if our government simply took the time to plan properly.

Dennis Gault
Co-president P.S. 89 P.T.A.

Link Midtown, not Downtown

To The Editor:
Perhaps Mr. Deutsch’s proposal that a rail link between Downtown and J.F.K. is too costly (Progress Report, Nov. 3 – 9, “Downtown needs a rail link to J.F.K. Airport”).  How about fixing the present one, which requires a traveler to connect from Jamaica, which we thought was ill-conceived in the first place.  Perhaps there were technical justifications that were valid, limiting what the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could do.  But I refuse to accept that rationale.  What they should have done was select a “central” Manhattan point, somewhere Midtown, so it would be convenient for all passengers to check in their luggage there, and take the ride, pretty much hands free, to J.F.K.  What baffled me was why the M.T.A. didn’t do what Hong Kong had done.  Their train to the plane is simply the best.  We don’t want to see any American excuse that it’s not feasible to do it in N.Y.C.  We’re talking about America.  As far as the train from Lower Manhattan to J.F.K., how about another one linking Manhattan to Newark also?  Why didn’t Mr. Deutsch think of that?

To truly revive Downtown Manhattan, the most urgent thing is for all of us to put aside all the bickering and get the World Trade Center rebuilt.  Hasn’t Mr. Deutsch seen how devastated the Nassau-Fulton St. area has become?  Store after store, the area right around City Hall, has been dying.  Only J&R has been holding up the area.  If the W.T.C. were to be resurrected, I bet the entire Downtown area will see its renaissance again faster than any rail can deliver.
Shek Mark

Borat’s humor

To The Editor:
What struck me the most while watching “Borat” was that none of the people he “interviewed” laughed, chuckled or even cracked a smile.

Surely, even someone who has no idea who Borat really is can find his boorish behavior, his cluelessness, his butchering of English very amusing.

This is especially true in the segment with Linda Stein and her feminist friends.

I like to believe that I would have at least chuckled at Borat’s assertion that women’s brains are smaller. Then, I think I would have burst out laughing (as I did in the theater) when he backed his preposterous statement with supposed research by Kazakh “scientists.”

I think it is just silly to say, like Stein does, that Borat was taking revenge on her because of some feelings of inferiority toward women or because of some childhood trauma involving losing at Scrabble to a woman (Essay, Oct. 13 – 19, “How I was duped by Ali G.”).
What Borat did was to pick on humorless, self-important, self-centered people.

Stein was certainly one of them, unable to react gracefully and wittily when pushed outside of her comfort zone. She did nothing to present feminists as welcoming people.
Marie Gilot
El Paso, Texas

Making bridge history

To The Editor:
Re “The Bronx is up…” (Photo caption, November 3 - 9):

Kudos to photographer Milo Hess for the fabulous photo of the new 145th Street Bridge. The photo reflects an amazing city Dept. of Transportation engineering feat. We residents of Esplanade Gardens, Inc., the Mitchell-Lama cooperative abutting the Harlem River at the 145th Street Bridge, are enduring nighttime demolition noise to install the new bridge and can feel proud to be a part of it.

Thanks so much for capturing this exciting historical event.

Alice F. La Brie

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