Volume 16 • Issue 44 | April 2 - 8, 2004

Letters to the editor

W.T.C. living

To The Editor:
Thank you for a comprehensive progress report on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. I can echo what my friend, neighbor, and fellow board member, David Stanke, said about moving back to our home at 114 Liberty after a nearly three-year diaspora (Progress Report, March 26 – April 1, “Looking forward to living across from the progress”).

We should all be back by the summer if our re-construction plans hold. Why have we had such an odyssey? I have learned a great deal about the good and not so good in people and institutions since 9/11. The building’s insurance company took two years to agree to pay us what we needed to clean and rebuild the building. We had to battle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to obtain help in getting our lives back together again. We had to rely on the news media, especially NY1, to get these agencies to move. We needed an endless series of exhausting meetings with the Dept. of Environmental Protection to get the building cleaned and we still had to hire a private environmental firm to further clean and test to more rigorous standards. We had to move three times during this period and discard thousands of dollars of personal belongings that were damaged beyond repair.

Right now, we are very worried about the dismantling of the Deutsche Bank building and how that will affect us. (Why have there been no environmental impact statements from the L.M.D.C. related to this? Why have there been no open meetings with nearby residents detailing the plan and what methods of attenuation will be used?) I could go on.

Many times during this period we thought seriously of not going back and giving it up and moving away. But we will return. Although our spirit was sorely tested since 9/11, we have not broken. We look forward to a new era in Lower Manhattan and have re-dedicated ourselves to our community. We know that the battle between the needs of the community versus powerful financial interests will be ongoing, but we are optimistic that in the end, Lower Manhattan will be the jewel in the crown of New York City.

Steven Abramson
114 Liberty St. (as of August 1, 2004)

Chinatown traffic

To The Editor:
I attended the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s presentation of its Chinatown Traffic Study and would like to add some background to your story, “Chinatown residents hear traffic plan changes” (news article, March 19 –25).

As a resident and board member of Chatham Towers, one of the residential developments on Park Row barricaded after 9/11, we have watched as not only Park Row but almost every single street in the entire neighborhood has been turned into a free parking zone for N.Y.P.D. private police vehicles, courthouses as well as for every conceivable governmental agency citywide.

This massive takeover of our streets and neighborhood has hammered the economic vitality of Chinatown. Longtime businesses within two to three blocks of Park Row have disappeared forever, including a local supermarket, coffee shop and two gift shops, one that was over one hundred years old. The blockade of streets immediately after 9/11 dealt a critical blow to a garment industry that was already floundering and to other small businesses.

Our streets have been turned into an over-congested funnel to the Holland Tunnel and to streets west and south of us. Shortly before 9/11, the city permanently took away the 400-car Municipal Garage for a proposed Office of Emergency Management center citing no impact to the neighborhood even though this garage was originally a give back to the community in order to use the site for Police Headquarters.

The major vehicular cross streets of Park Row and Pearl St. are barricaded; and a speedy access to the much heralded, new transit hub Downtown has been axed. What was once a short commute Downtown has tripled in time and sometimes cost during rush hours. Meanwhile the community awaits the departure of N.Y.P.D. private police vehicles and the return of James Madison Plaza on April 15, after a hard fought Park Row lawsuit and many delays. We are still fighting for a much needed environmental impact study.

We are hopeful that the L.M.D.C.’s efforts to reconfigure traffic patterns, increase greenery at Chatham Square and add underground garages will increase visitors and shoppers to Chinatown. More importantly, we hope that the L.M.D.C. follows through with its “preliminary response” to fund a much needed community/cultural/arts center (news article, March 12 – 18,“Hope grows to build ‘the Lincoln Center of Chinatown’ ”). Our community needs a gathering place for meetings, forums, workshops or classes — a place to showcase local and international talent in the creative and performing arts – a strong magnet to draw others into our neighborhood. We need a vehicle to revive a community that has been economically, physically and spiritually pummeled by 9/11.

Jeanie Chin
Civic Center Residents Coalition


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