Volume 16 • Issue 49 | April 30 - May 6, 2004

High school begins to emerge from 9/11 ashes

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Facade work at the High School for Public Leadership’s building at 90 Trinity Pl. was about half complete early in April.

Nearly three years after 9/11, the black shroud will soon be lifted from one of the few Downtown buildings still undergoing structural rehabilitation following the World Trade Center collapse.

The 14-story building at 90 Trinity Place, home to the High School for Leadership and Public Service, remains covered with scaffolding and black netting as workers reinstall massive granite panels on its facade. The panels, each measuring roughly four by six feet and weighing 400 pounds, were removed and checked for structural damage after the terror attack. Some had to be replaced.

As Lower Manhattan returns to life around it, the school community is eager to shed its dark cover and join the renovated PATH station and other signs of progress. The Deutsche Bank building, set to be demolished, is the only other Lower Manhattan building still draped in black.

“It’s a constant reminder of what happened,” said Ada Rosario Dolch, principal of the public high school two blocks south of ground zero.

Dolch lost her sister, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee, in the World Trade Center attack and is quick to say that she and her students will never forget the events of that day. But it will take them a step further in their healing process to have their building restored to its pre-9/11 condition, Dolch said.

“The school is still using crutches,” said Alicia Cantelini, a former assistant principal who now works as a consultant for the school.

In addition to the psychological reminder of the netting, the construction outside causes practical problems for the school’s 593 students, Cantelini said. Students have trouble concentrating over the drilling, and the presence of workmen outside their windows can be distracting. Once, students even caught a worker eyeing a pretty young teacher, Cantelini added.

“Sometimes it is really disruptive,” said Yoselin Duran, 18, a senior.

Efforts were made to minimize the impact of construction, said a spokesperson for New York University, the building’s owner. Work will be completed this summer, said John Beckman, the spokesperson. Beckman said he did not have an estimate of how much the facelift cost.

“Obviously, we’re pleased to have been able to be partners in a project to help move Lower Manhattan towards a bright future,” Beckman said.

Some at the school might interpret that comment literally.

“We’re just looking forward to sunshine pouring in,” Dolch said.

The lobby in particular has been shaded by scaffolding extending the width of the sidewalk.

But for some teenagers, life has moved beyond the events that prompted the construction. Garrick Brown, a senior, said he was glad the work was almost done, but added the shrouded building didn’t particularly remind him or his fellow students of Sept., 11, 2001.

“I think we’re past it,” said Brown, 18. “We’re sick and tired of hearing about it.”



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