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

Letters to the editor

Get the lead out

To The Editor:
Re “E.P.A. watchdog panel looks to expand testing” by Elizabeth O’Brien (April 16-22):

I applaud the technical review panel set up to re-evaluate the World Trade Center testing and clean-up program for their recent progress and breakthroughs. However, there are still major flaws in their recommendations. I strongly disagree with panel member David Prezant’s recommendation to exclude lead as one of the contaminants to be included in the retesting program based on low blood levels found in firefighters.

Children are most at risk for lead poisoning and should be our major concern. It is well known that blood lead levels in adults and children are not comparable. It takes much higher blood lead levels to poison an adult than a child. Children absorb lead more quickly and in higher concentrations than adults. Children also excrete lead from their urine at a slower rate than adults.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency sampling program for toxics other than asbestos showed that lead had the highest number of exceedences of health benchmarks compared to the other contaminants which they sampled.

Maureen Silverman
Executive director, New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning Inc.

Stanke responds to critique

To The Editor:
I recently wrote an editorial explaining my concerns that overactive preservation will slow or alter redevelopment of the World Trade Center (Talking Point, April 9-15, “Don’t let preservation delay W.T.C. redevelopment”) and two people have responded to this editorial, leaving me more concerned about the prospects for development.

Mr. Lustbader, a preservation consultant explains that the State Historic Preservation Office is advisory and has a track record of balancing preservation and development (Letters, “W.T.C. preservation” by Ken Lustbader, April 16 –22). This is assuring until he declares that all of the items are “obviously historical,” without any discussion of the specific items which I questioned. What experience has the SHiPO had in evaluating cities that have been destroyed in acts of war? Has anyone from the SHiPO worked with the British as they rebuilt London after the W.W. II bombing? Or perhaps they’ve studied the preservation procedures used in Dresden when it was fire bombed to the ground. Both of these cities were far more destroyed with far greater loss of life and both have been rebuilt. Were the rebuilders negotiating with historians at these sites?

Last week, Mr. Gardner from the Coalition of 9/11 Families claimed that I want no historic preservation and that I am, like a Holocaust denier, trying to forget 9/11 (Talking Point by Anthony Gardner, April 23-29, “Preserving history, preventing delays at the W.T.C.”). He apparently didn’t read enough of my piece to realize that I was distinguishing between the items that truly communicated the story of 9/11 from those which are simply remnants on the fringe of the destruction being used as real estate markers to stop development. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has already set aside an expansive area for memorial and preservation. Mr. Gardener, without specifying the acreage, hopes that the agreement will protect further elements comprising as much as 10 of the original 16 acres from development. It’s hard to see how preventing development on most of the site will enhance revitalization.

I have the great pleasure of being on the Memorial Center Advisory Board, as Mr. Gardner says. My resume is not that of my fellow board members, but I have pushed since 9/11 for a development plan for the W.T.C. that remembers the past, respects the deceased, and supports the rebirth of Downtown. I’ve always felt that the commercial elements should be integrated with historical elements to remind us of the temporal nature of our lives and as a warning of the boundless destruction caused by hate. Those who died on 9/11 cannot be allowed to pass in vain. I hope that the board’s work will lead to a center that touches visitors in unexpected ways, that inspires them to look more deeply into their own nature, and to find ways to promote harmony among humans. While there will certainly be disagreement on the panel, I have already found the process to be both inspiring and educational. I am honored to sit down in conference with these people for W.T.C. Memorial discussions.

David Stanke

Hopsital tower

To The Editor:
On behalf of many of my fellow residents of Nassau St., I am writing to express severe concern with the contemplated development plan for the NYU Downtown Hospital parking lot (news article, April 16 –22, “Hospital looks to build 50-story apartment tower”). We in the local community seek a direct meeting with the developer so that neighborhood opinions can be considered in project planning. We feel that community feedback is particularly important in this context, given the magnitude of this $210-million project, which involves the creation of a 55- story tower, housing more than 350 market rate condos, Pace University dorms and hospital outpatient facilities.

We have the following key questions about the project:

* Environmental Impact: What will be the environmental impact of this project?

* How will local light be affected? Are there pollutants beneath the parking lot?

* Aesthetic and character of Lower Manhattan: The building as proposed (55 stories) will literally tower (no pun intended) above everything else in the neighborhood. How is a building on this scale even remotely consistent with the 15-20 story foot-print of all other nearby buildings?

* Local Traffic Patterns: How significantly would a 55-story tower impact the already significant congestion near city hall?

* Property Values: The project, as currently proposed with no set backs and no green space, would significantly harm the value of existing Nassau St.reet residences. Isn’t there a way to create a win-win here that preserves existing property values while permitting reasonable development?

* Landmark status: Is it appropriate to develop an abutting 55-story tower that would diminish the appeal and stature of historic Nassau and Beekman Streets.?

As noted above, we request a public session to discuss this project. We have a strong preference for park space in the parking lot, but are open to dialogue with the developer.

We have no hidden agenda and are not anti-development. We simply want to protect the true charm and rich history of Lower Manhattan.

David A. Cooper


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