The Wall Street Journal reports that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and leaders of St. Nicholas Church, a Greek Orthodox Church that has roots stemming back to 1916 and that was destroyed by falling debris after the Twin Towers were attacked, have begun legal action by filing a claim against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The leaders are demanding that the church be rebuilt under the terms of a deal that was worked out several years ago but that the PA has since reneged on.
The claim is hefty, as it accuses the PA, which oversees the rebuilding process at Ground Zero, of engaging in â€œarrogance, bad faith and fraudulent conduct,â€ as well as â€œshabby and unlawful treatment.â€
Initially, in 2008, the PA agreed to help rebuild the church, originally located on Cedar Street, in a new but nearby location on Liberty Street. The PA also agreed to contribute $20 million to the project. The deal fell through in March when the PA accused the church leaders of making excessive demands; the church countered that the organization backed out of the deal.
The churchâ€™s claim also references several civil rights and constitutional violations, accusing the PA of interfering with its right to freely practice religion and of defaming the church, as well. The church seeks to compel the PA to follow through on their binding preliminary agreement. “Filing a lawsuit is not something that we really want to do,” said the Rev. Mark Arey, a spokesman for the church. “We have come to this point because we have been ignored and bullied.”
In addition to the Port Authority, the claim also names the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. as a potential defendant.
Should the Port Authority be beholden to the old terms? Does the church’s suit sound like it has merit?
A long-delayed project to erect a performing arts center at Ground Zero is finally picking up steam. New York City has stepped up to the plate with $44 million to help build the center’s below-ground foundation, according to the Associated Press.
The board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a deal last week that will have the city repay the Authority for the work at the World Trade Center site.
David Paterson doesn’t like ineptitude. In fact, he abhors it so much that he’s going to go ahead andÂ gut the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) this summer.
According to the New York Post, Gov. Paterson will slash the 35-person staff — which reaps a combined annual salary of around $3 million — down to a crew of just five. The reason for this drastic measure: The LMDC hasn’t doled out $540 million of the $3 billion in federal funds it was created to dispense, and it has yet to carry out one of its primary duties, the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.
The LMDC’s critics, which not so shockingly include one of its own board members, say the corporation has devolved into a money-sucking bureaucracy with only one goal in mind: to justify its own preservation.
Gov. Paterson hopes that this slash-and-burn will jolt the corporation into action, compelling those still left standing after the shakeup to put the remaining Congress-allocated cash to good use in the rejuvenation of Lower Manhattan. This includes paying off cost overruns of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, funding a planned performing-arts center, and giving money to non-profit groups and small businesses.
In fact, the LMDC still has $4 million in its coffers that is supposed to be dispensed in $25,000 increments as grants to local small businesses. And, according to a recent Community Board 1 survey, a whopping 66 percent of local small business owners didn’t even know they were eligible for these grants.
Sounds like the LMDC still has a whole lot of work to do — and pretty soon it’ll have 30 fewer people to do it.