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Ground Zero Effort 'Losing Steam,’ Schumer
Associated Press, May 3, 2005
WASHINGTON -- The effort to raise a 1,776-foot Freedom Tower where the World
Trade Center once stood is "losing steam," Sen. Charles Schumer told New York
business leaders Tuesday.
"Let's stop twiddling our thumbs and get to work," Schumer, D-N.Y., told a
Crain's business breakfast.
The senior senator also warned delays may jeopardize some $2 billion worth of
federal tax incentives New York had hoped to win from Congress for the planned
building of a rail link between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy Airport.
"Nearly four years after Sept. 11, we are losing steam," Schumer said, noting
that the steel for the Freedom Tower has yet to be ordered.
"Unfortunately, a culture of inertia has infected downtown redevelopment and our
city in general. ... Critics are given more weight than those trying to build,"
the senator said.
Schumer said he was not laying blame on the two leaders most involved, Gov.
George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The lawmaker's criticism follows a number of developments that have thrown the
rebuilding timetable into question.
The Freedom Tower cornerstone was laid July 4, 2004, but police concerns raised
in an assessment given to developer Larry Silverstein last month have forced the
architects to rethink elements of the structure, including its precise location
on the 16-acre site.
The security concerns could push the planned 2009 opening back a year.
Bloomberg said Monday it would be better to delay the opening than to dismiss
"In 1993 there was a bombing at the World Trade Center and we did not learn our
lesson," Bloomberg said. "If we don't learn our lesson this time, shame on us."
The New York Times reported Sunday that Silverstein has proposed seeking public
financing, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, to address security.
"I'm sure Mr. Silverstein would like to have someone else pick up some of his
tab," Bloomberg told reporters Monday. "At the moment we're not looking at
A spokesman for Silverstein, Howard Rubenstein, declined to comment on the
question of public financing but said in a statement: "It is too early in this
collaborative process to determine the overall impact of the NYPD's
recommendations on the schedule, appearance and cost of the Freedom Tower."
Adding to the uncertainly, Lower Manhattan Development Corp. President Kevin
Rampe, a close associate of Pataki who has been with the rebuilding agency since
it was created in early 2002, announced Monday that he will leave at the end of
the month. Rampe said his announcement was not related to the recent turmoil.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press
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