Crowds flocked to Ground Zero on Sunday night as news of the death of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden at the hands of Navy SEALS via a covert, Barrack Obama-sanctioned operation broke and began to spread. Â A good chunk of the people that ventured downtown to the former site of the Twin Towers were the surviving family members of those lost in the September 11th attacks of 2001. The news that Bin Laden was taken out brought a lot of still unhealed memories to the surface, but there was an overwhelming sense of vindication at the news and the reality it represented.
NY1 reports that Dianna Massaroli, widow of Cantor Fitzgerald employee Michael Massaroli, couldn’t stay away. “I had to come. Wide awake, beaming, we had to come,” said Massaroli.
Ricky Rubenfeld returned to the site to honor her cousin who perished in the attacks; his remains were not found until a full two weeks later. “Weâ€™re here not only to commemorate his death but to celebrate this amazing victory,” she said. “Itâ€™s a sense of relief and a sense of justice that [this] brought for our family. For all of the pain and the suffering that my cousin and his wife and his daughters and my father and the rest of the family endured.”
Katie McAvoy’s firefighter father John lost his life trying to save the lives of others on that fateful day. McAvoy was just Â a teen when she lost her dad, but she has a very adult view and perspective regarding the matter. Â “Justice has been served,” she said. “I think he would hopefully feel satisfied.”
Where were you when you heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed?
In a vote yesterday, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) will allocate nearly $200 million dollars initially earmarked for a variety of utility costs around the World Trade Center site allocated instead for quality of life programs in the downtown area.
The variety of utility costs include those associated with the World Trade Center Memorial, transportation, cultural institutions, affordable housing and other programs.
Another vote will be scheduled to appropriate specific costs from the funding from this decision.
Con Edison is unhappy with the decision, as the utilities company was the sole recipient of the $200 million funding for the rebuilding of their infrastructure after September 11th.
Con Edison’s current costs of rebuilding amount to Â $186 million, but has already received $161 million for those costs. Con Ed claims without the subsidies, the Public Service Commission can allow Con Edison to increase energy costs to its customers.
Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1 and an LMDC board member, “It’s the first step in what will result in a very large amount of funding going to the Lower Manhattan community, and that’s what Congress intended,” according to a report in Crain’s New York.
The vote is seen as a win for the community groups, but is not over yet as representatives from the Mayors office and LMDC have meet with Con Edison to hammer out utilities deals.
Besides the World Trade Center Memorial, reports have been unclear as to who these community interest groups are. One mentioned group would be the 3LD theater on Greenwich street, which has faced bankruptcy in recent years.
The LMDC is charged with allocating almost $800 million in September 11th funds before the corporation is formerly shut down.
One could easily agree that little has been seen from the LMDC– but might also argue that the dissolution of the organization might be a heavy handed option for a community still reeling from the after effects of 9/11 nearly a decade later. Although the LMDC will not be completely shut down, the Governor is proposing cutting the organization by 85% from 35 fulltime staffers to 5.
This is cause for some concern for residents of Lower Manhattan but especially Battery Park City being that the LMDC is the owner and responsible agent for the dismantling of the former Deutsche Bank building, a behemoth skeleton of a visual reminder of how much work is left.
From its inception in 2001 from government and by then Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the intent of the LMDC was to “work closely with the private sector to determine a proper market-driven response to the economic and infrastructure needs of Lower Manhattan, as well as with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to identify the appropriate redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.”
According to the LMDC’s website, some of its core responsibilities include city operations, communications, community relations, construction mitigation, environmental compliance, fraud prevention, small business development and marketing. Dissolution of the LMDC could affect our community in the following ways:
1. Safety and infrastructural hazards
As if it’s not dangerous or confusing enough to cross the West Side Highway to reach the subway, how will a 5-person team be optimized to make sure that our safety is maintained during the construction at Ground Zero?Â The implementation of crossing guards in our area, although fiscally insufficient, was still a step in the right direction. With all the confusing bridge detours being built and constantly changed — who will notify us of these changes? High winds during the winter also pose a serious safety risk during construction, if the falling glass panes from Goldman Sachs’ construction site can be used as an example.
2. Dismantling of the Deutsche Bank Building
The history of the former Deutsche Bank building post 9/11 has been riddled with corruption and safety concerns. From the issues surrounding the decontamination of the building to the safety of the workers dismantling the building, who will be accountable if something goes wrong? According to the LMDC, concerned residents can call a hotline to report incidents at the site as to avoid what happened on August 18, 2007 when a fire spread through the site killing 2 firefighters.
3. Environmental Compliance
The progress reports that are issued by the LMDC are important for our community as the demolition affects the health of the air we breathe during its decontamination. Although most of us probably haven’t even seen one of these reports — it’s important that they be maintained in order for us to be aware of the hazards that might exist during the demolition.
4. Small Business Development
The lack of business real estate means the lack of foot traffic of businessmen and women, which translates into the decimation of small businesses in our area. As we roll into our 9th year of waiting for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site — who will help the small businesses that residents rely on in this underserved area? Although disbursements of small business grants have been slow from the LMDC — there is still almost $800 Million dollars of yet to be disbursed funds. These funds were meant for the development of Lower Manhattan distributed through the LMDC. When the governor dissolves the LMDC, what will happen to that funding?
These are four compelling reasons as to reconsider dissolving the LMDC. If the organization needs less ineptitude and better people to run it — why restructure and re-organize the LMDC instead? There must be a better option for the betterment of a still embattled Lower Manhattan.
As we all recognize, first responders of the September 11th attacks had sacrificed their lives, their healths and as some doctors have found — their sense of smell.
The sense of smell is important for a human’s first line of defense against chemical poisons or spoiled foods. Nearly 22 emergency responders, construction workers and other crewmen reported a loss of smell for more than two years after their exposure to the World Trade Center site. An astounding 74% were unable to recognize irritants through smell as reported by doctors at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
If you’re thinking that this study might have been released a bit tardily, you are not incorrect. According to an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “The findings could not be published until now, in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, because it took until last year for the Mount Sinai people to extract personal histories for the over 100 subjects.” The studies indicate that there exists subsequent damage amongst the subjects olfactory nerves that may not be regained without nasal steroids and other treatments.