Volume 19 Issue 48 | April 13 - 19, 2007

Letters to the editor

Break up ‘survivors’ stairway’

To The Editor:
Re “Saving the stairway would preserve falsehood” (editorial, April 6 – 12):

I'd be interested to find out how you know that "many people" used the so-called "survivors’ stairway" to escape from the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Although I have heard this assertion repeated over and over by various media, I have never seen any evidence that it is true.  I have lived three blocks from the W.T.C. for 14 years.  Prior to 9/11, I myself used that stairway and almost never saw another person using it.  It was out of the way, on a little used side of the W.T.C., and most people did not even know it was there.

Richard Joffe

To The Editor:
Your editorial emphasizing the foolishness of plans to preserve the so-called “survivors’ stairway” could not be more timely. In addition to your key point about the false message conveyed by this remnant that was only damaged after 9/11, others have pointed out that this unremarkable stairway at the periphery of the World Trade Center site was frequently closed prior to 9/11 and was an unpleasant place due to the pervasive odor of urine.

Before the governor’s intervention, the fate of the stairway was moving toward a rational solution. Following months of study and input from all major stakeholders, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. had decided that this 350,000-pound hunk of crumbling concrete should be dismantled, with certain portions retained either as part of the steps outside W.T.C. Tower 2 or in the memorial museum itself. Such an outcome would be entirely consistent with historic preservation principles.

The governor’s intervention has created two huge problems. The first is where to store the massive structure for the “interim” period, which may be years.

More importantly, it makes no sense to preserve this structure fully intact because it is far too large to relocate anywhere on the W.T.C. site. If returned to its current location, as advocated by the extreme preservationists, it would occupy part of the lobby of W.T.C. Tower 2 and penetrate the wall of the building, creating major security and safety problems for occupants and visitors. Alternatively, it cannot be relocated to the memorial plaza because it would destroy the beautiful park envisioned for that location and would result in major delays and cost escalation due to the weight of the huge structure.

More fundamentally, why should local residents still trying to recover from the trauma of 9/11 be forced to encounter this ugly reminder of that terrible day every time they attend a cultural performance or go shopping or go to work? Let those extreme preservationists haul this structure away to one of their own neighborhoods if they love it so much.

Bill Love
Bill Love is a consulting party to the Section 106 historic preservation review process at the W.T.C. site.

To The Editor:
After 9/11, part of the World Trade Center concourse remained intact. Authorities running the recovery process decided that the concourse — which would have been a significant historical artifact — should be destroyed, and now, with nothing meaningful left, a few people are clinging to the "staircase" as somehow being deservingof preservation. The staircase, however, is only a reminder of the failure, guilt, and politics that has driven the rebuilding effort and been part of our lives for the last five years.

Very few people used that staircase prior to 9/11, which is why it was frequently used as an outdoor toilet, and every time I see pictures of it I remember how it smelled. The escalator and the stairway were each wide enough for only one person, so I suspect that its importance as an escape route has been exaggerated over the years, part of the post-9/11 mythology.

While moving it to Battery Park City would be a mistake, putting it somewhere other than Site 2B in order to build a school is not the answer either (news article, April 6 – 12, “W.T.C. stairs may delay steps to middle school learning”). As the article on page 3 pointed out, there is a lack of cultural facilities in Lower Manhattan, and if 2B is used for a school instead of a museum, there will be one less (news article, April 6 – 12, “Split of W.T.C. arts draws questions, concern and hope”). The Women's Museum was a deplorable idea, but some cultural amenity on the site is crucial to replace the culture that is being phased out of the Trade Center site. Find another spot for the school; find a museum or performance group for site 2B; dismantle the staircase and get rid of it. We do not need a constant reminder in our neighborhood of that terrible day; we needto get rid of it and make immediate and measurable progress in rebuilding.

JoAnne Chernow

Signs blowing in the wind

To The Editor:  
Thanks to Downtown Express for ongoing print and radio coverage of the serious government permit parking abuses impacting Chinatown and Downtown Manhattan (news article, March 16 – 22, “Chinatown’s commander tells cops: My way or the tow away” and “Downtown Express Community Report,” March 27, Internet radio show available at and After years of abuse, the courageous enforcement actions of precinct commanders from the First and Fifth Precincts need the support of police headquarters and the Department of Transportation to ensure: 

Permanent signage indicating “No Permit Parking” zones so that Deputy Inspector Gin Yee of the Fifth Precinct would not need to repeatedly post paper warnings that are gone with the wind and rain.  This would save hundreds, if not thousands, of police hours posting warnings, ticketing and/or towing illegally parked vehicles with permits that numbered more than 1,000 on an average work day in the security zone around One Police Plaza, according to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the One Police Plaza Security Plan.

Ongoing enforcement so that illegally parked cars don’t migrate from one neighborhood to the next and return when the “heat” subsides.

Permanent reduction of government issued parking permits — can we afford “parking perks” that pollute, denigrate the quality of our lives and jeopardize the safety of our streets?  Last spring the D.O.T was awarded a $400,000-taxpayer funded study to determine the number of permits issued to city agencies.  Almost a year later does anyone have a clue?
Jeanie Chin

River plans changed

To The Editor:
As Yvonne Morrow said in her recent letter to the editor, the Hudson River Park Trust has participated in many community meetings to discuss planning for Pier 26 (Letters, April 6 – 12, “Trust my records”).  However, Community Board 1 received the final plans only two months ago, and ironically, after all those many meetings, the collected voice of the community has been completely lost. 

Since 2002, C.B. 1 has been on record saying that we do not want a commercial "destination" restaurant on Pier 26; specifically, we do not want a restaurant to replace an educational facility. 

Simply put, what is needed is what our community lost when Pier 26 was closed by the H.R.P.T. two years ago: the Downtown Boathouse (for recreational boating) and The River Project (an estuarium for marine research and education). 

Those two public amenities have been in all the plans, in all the discussions, for all those years of meetings. Now H.R.P.T. has completely eliminated the estuarium from the latest plans. Why?

Let’s listen to the kayakers and design a boathouse large enough to accommodate the boats (which is how it was before), and let’s get the wonderful, much-needed estuarium back into the plans. And let’s do this before we talk about restaurants, large or small. 

The most critical aspect is for the new Pier 26 design to recapture the character and community feeling it had for all those many years, and C.B. 1 is trying to work with H.R.P.T. to achieve this goal.  Lower Manhattan doesn't need another restaurant. We do need our lost estuarium.

Julie Nadel, Una Perkins, Edward Sheffe, Marc Ameruso and George Olsen
The signers are all members of Community Board 1’s Waterfront Committee. Julie Nadel is also a member of the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors.

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