Volume 16 • Issue 54 | June 4 - 10, 2004

Memorial barrier removed from W.T.C. design

By Josh Rogers
With Elizabeth O’Brien

Officials with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. said Wednesday that the proposed wall blocking the World Trade Center memorial from Battery Park City has been removed from the design, satisfying a neighborhood concern about the plan.

“There won’t be a wall,” Andrew Winters, L.M.D.C.’s vice president for planning, design and development, told Downtown Express after the corporation’s board meeting June 2.

Winters told board members that working together, all of the parties were able to keep the memorial within three feet of the surrounding sidewalks on West, Greenwich, Liberty and Fulton Sts. Afterwards, he said the proposed wall on West St. would not need to be built. Because Greenwich is significantly higher than West St., it was not an easy problem to solve.

Winters said there may be a ramp or steps at Liberty and West Sts., the southwest corner of the site, where the difference in height would be a maximum of three feet. “We’re going to try and push it down lower than that,” he said.

The L.M.D.C. board also approved the World Trade Center site’s general project plan, setting the stage for the start of construction of the Freedom Tower on July 4. The corporation’s advisory committee on the memorial center, made up of historians, preservations, relatives of the victims of 9/11 and residents, also released recommendations for the underground center, including using a remnant from the World Trade Center as a “signpost and icon” at street level to mark the center.

Winters’ comments about the wall was welcomed news by two Downtown residents and leaders who had opposed it, Madelyn Wils and Julie Menin.

“That’s great news,” Wils, an L.M.D.C. board member and the chairperson of Community Board 1, said at the meeting, which also marked Winters’ last day at the L.M.D.C. Winters has taken a job with NYC 2012, the group working on bringing the Olympics to New York and Betty Chen has just been promoted to his position.

Menin, who was one of the 13 jurors who selected Michael Arad’s “Reflecting Absence” memorial design at the beginning of this year, said the wall was added immediately after the jury’s decision and she was pleased to see it go.

“The wall was extremely problematic,” said Menin, who is also the president of Wall Street Rising, a Downtown business group. “In no way was it part of the design that the jury selected.”

She said it blocked access between Battery Park City and the World Trade Center site and would have worked against the efforts to improve conditions for pedestrians.

Arad’s design of two reflection pools where the Twin Towers once stood originally had a narrow cultural building on West St., but the jury asked him to move it and to team up with a landscape architect. Arad then joined with Peter Walker, who added groves of trees to the plan. Menin said only after the jury made its final selection in January, was the barrier added to replace the cultural building.

“The design the jury selected showed no wall, but then the wall was shown that day at the press conference,” she said.

Arad, in a brief telephone interview, said it was good team effort with the L.M.D.C. and the Port Authority, the site’s owner, to come up with a way to solve the wall problem. “Our intent is to have as much open access to the memorial from all sides,” he said without going into the specifics on the solution.

As for the rest of the site, there was concern from a few board members and others that the problems such as traffic and parking for tour buses, black car limos remain unsolved.

Winters said the limos could make pickups on Greenwich St. and the buses could drop off tourists either on Greenwich or West Sts. Wils said she did not think there was enough space for the limos and a highway like West St. was not a good place for buses to stop.

“It needs more work,” Wils said to Winters. “I would suggest West St. is not a good option for the buses.” In a subsequent telephone interview, Wils said: “I’m cautious about all of this. I’m very concerned because of the kind of traffic we’re creating around the site.”

Another board member, Paul Crotty, said he had concerns about the option of adding a truck service entrance at the north end of the site near Vesey St. because he thought it could lead to more traffic congestion. “You’ve imposed a major burden on the surrounding area,” he said. “You’re going to have trucks circling the area.”

Despite the skepticism, the L.M.D.C. board unanimously approved the plan.

Kevin Rampe, L.M.D.C. president, speaking at a Wall Street Rising forum June 3, said the progress on Lower Manhattan redevelopment was proceeding well and the concerns about buses and limos are being addressed.

He said a tour bus garage was under consideration for the Deutsche Bank site between Liberty, Cedar, Greenwich and West Sts, and under Towers 3 and 4 between Church, Liberty, Dey and Greenwich Sts.

He said the limos — a consistent source of complaints of Lower Manhattan residents for years – may be able to park in the Tower 3 and 4 garage at night.

Barry Skolnick, a Battery Park City resident and C.B. 1 member, liked the idea of possibly seeing fewer idling black cars. “I think that’s a great idea,” he said.


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