Sept. 11 reflections in 2004
The eleventh day of the ninth month will be linked to Downtown psyche for the rest of our lives, many years after that, and perhaps forever. For many, it is a day to remember, mourn, reflect, take stock and pull our loved ones a little closer to us.
This year, people who lost sons and daughters, granddaughters and grandsons will read the names of the nearly 2,800 people killed in our backyard three years ago. They live with the pain every day, as do the children who read the names last year, as do the spouses, as does everyone else who lost someone they loved on that bright, sunny and awful day.
There is also pain and sadness with those Downtowners who did not lose someone close to them but witnessed the attack, and with people who watched on TV thousands of miles away. The day is still with us, but many of have been able to keep the memories yet still find the joys in life.
The day naturally, also leads us to reflect on where we have been and where we are going.
In 2002, we were still reeling and recovering from the shock that had happened 12 short months before. As we looked to the empty pit at what we now call the World Trade Center site, we were also disappointed at the lack of progress figuring out what should be done next.
By Sept. 11, 2003, many more of us had gotten back to a new type of normalcy. Daniel Libeskinds street plan had been selected and an area had been set aside for a memorial to the victims. We were waiting for the PATH commuter trains to return to the W.T.C. two months later. Mayor Bloomberg had laid out a thoughtful vision to revive the neighborhoods surrounding the W.T.C. the previous December, and in April, Gov. Pataki had announced a detailed timeline outlining what progress would be made when.
This year, the days importance is as strong as it ever was, but thankfully many of us have learned to cope better.
We now have a site plan, a tower beginning to be built, a design for a memorial and drawings of a beautiful train station. Questions remain as to how to pay for the $350 million memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. The search for a foundation head to raise private funds to pay part of the costs of the twin reflecting-pool memorial has been delayed months. Some unspecified amount will come from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., but the agency only has $860 million left and many more demands on the money.
Too few of Bloombergs ideas to build new and better Lower Manhattan neighborhoods have advanced far enough but word is that working with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., some of the plans to add things like new plazas and nicer looking streets may be unveiled soon.
Even without these improvements, which are much needed and welcomed, the residential population of Lower Manhattan continues to show strong growth, which is one of the bright spots in Lower Manhattans recovery. One can imagine how devastating it would be if people were bailing out of the neighborhoods south of Canal. But the areas sharp population increase exacerbates our school-crowding problem and lack of other residential amenities. Good residential city planning is falling behind the demographic curve.
The city is trying to catch up, and as we report in this issue, has agreed to build a new school, annex space at P.S. 234 and a large rec center, in exchange for community approval for two large-scale development projects in Tribeca. We like the deals benefits and we wait for more details to determine whether it is worth the costs.
Another sign of moving forward while living with the memory of September 11.