Volume 20, Number 41 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 22 - 28 , 2008

Letters to the editor

Trust: pier’s future is now

To The Editor: 
The recent editorial, “Time to end R.F.P. process for Pier 40” (Feb. 8 – 14), recognizes the importance of taking immediate action on Pier 40, but misses a crucial point in this debate: abandoning the process is not the same as resolving the issue — and the issue must be resolved now.  

As of today, approximately 40 percent of the 550-acre Hudson River Park is up and running, and in two years, that number will jump to 80 percent.  Any reuse of the pier must fund restoring the pier to sound physical condition, while also generating enough revenue to pay for approximately 40 percent of the entire park’s annual maintenance budget.  Without achieving both of these important goals, we won’t be able to fulfill the vision of creating one of the greatest amenities built in Manhattan since Central Park was finished more than a century ago.

The Trust’s mission must be to find a balance that provides the community with the playing fields and parking they want and creates something that serves the entire region — in terms of revenue generation and as an attraction worthy of this location. Starting all over again, and ignoring the fact that this is our second attempt to engage private sector interest in Pier 40, decreases the likelihood of success. In fact, it most likely dooms the process to failure.

Diana Taylor
Chairperson, Hudson River Park Trust            

Deutsche Mistakes II

To The Editor:
The WTC Community-Labor Coalition welcomed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s announcement that it would decouple the abatement of 130 Liberty St. from its demolition. (news article, Feb. 15 – 21, “Deutsche cleanup approved, demo plan still not ready”). It should decrease the possibility of fire, among other risks. But, we had also hoped that the L.M.D.C. was ready to accept its partnership with and accountability to the community.

Unfortunately, L.M.D.C. withheld the abatement plan from the community and independent experts until it was approved, denying us the opportunity to provide feedback to the regulators considering the plan.

Downtown residents, office workers and many community, labor, and environmental organizations have repeatedly pressed the L.M.D.C./Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center for careful, transparent planning on the demolition. In 2004, we warned that the project was uncoordinated and that responsibility and accountability were diffuse. We called for the hiring of competent contractors, pre-planning for a range of disasters, a robust community notification plan, and an L.M.D.C. responsive to the regulators.

We met with stonewalling at every turn. Red flags raised repeatedly were ignored. By 2006, the incompetence and integrity problems of the contractors made headlines. The deaths of firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino were all the more tragic because the institutional failures that contributed to their deaths were foreseeable. Their pictures, appearing in Julie Shapiro’s article, are a reminder of how much remains at stake.

Last week, firefighter Beddia’s sister filed suit against L.M.D.C., L.M.C.C.C., Bovis and others. We hope that these lawsuits and the ongoing investigations will shed light on the ill-advised decisions that have plagued this project and will bring a full measure of accountability.

As your editorial (Feb. 15 – 21, “What Downtown needs from the L.M.D.C.”) advises, L.M.D.C. should enter into a genuine working relationship with the community, especially since a number of gaps remain, not least the underdeveloped emergency community notification plan.

And, we must have a transparent public process going forward. L.M.D.C. must regularly hold two types of meetings: working meetings with adequate time for detailed discussion of the plans, and public meetings in the evening that allow the community and independent experts to voice their concerns at an open mic.

Implementing this public process would be the surest sign that L.M.D.C. has begun to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Kimberly Flynn and Rob Spencer
The writers are respectively with 9/11 Environmental Action and the Organization of Staff Analysts, which are members of the WTC Community-Labor Coalition.

Shadow questions

To The Editor:
Re “Domain master” (UnderCover, Feb. 8 – 14):

While many have told me they enjoyed reading of the potential high-spirited campaign for City Council 2009 between myself and the present chair of Community Board 1, I just have two questions for Ms. Menin:

1. Are you ever going to publicly condemn the Trump Soho and the ominous shadow it casts on our neighborhood?

2. Did your family’s company, Crescent Heights, make a cool $50 million profit off the sale of the land that the Trump Soho now sits?

Candor is a virtue that can unite a community.

Peter Gleason

Letters policy
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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