Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Public Airs Ideas At WTC Hearing
By Graham Rayman and Pete Bowles, Newsday Staff Writers, May 24, 2002

    A crowd of more than 800 people packed a downtown auditorium last night to sound off and listen to a multitude of plans and ideas for rebuilding the World Trade Center site and its surroundings. Residents started lining up two hours ahead of time to attend the public forum at Pace University, sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Once inside the auditorium, they heard a series of three-minute statements from speakers with different interests.
    Many complained that the LMDC, which is charged with overseeing the redevelopment of downtown, had not given enough consideration to the revitalization of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, affordable housing and assistance for displaced workers. "We don't feel the Lower East Side is represented in the process," said Margaret Hughes, a resident of that neighborhood. "The LMDC talks about being open but so many decisions have already been made."
    Fun Mei Eng, a community leader in Chinatown, had similar complaints about her area. "You have forgotten the people of Chinatown," she said. "Many people have lost their jobs to toxic air. The toxic air has hurt our lungs. The board has not included Chinatown in its plans."
    Louis Epstein, an Internet businessman from Carmel, N.Y., said he believed towers similar to the Twin Towers felled by terrorists on Sept. 11 should be constructed. "It's absolutely inconceivable to me that they would rebuild without rebuilding the towers," he said. "It's like deserting your dead in the battlefield."
    Bryan Murphy, a resident of lower Manhattan, agreed. "The site is hallowed ground," he said. "So something on the scale of the Twin Towers must be built here."
    Jonathan Hacola, who once worked on the 77th floor of one of the towers and who lost a close friend in the attack, also suggested that skyscraper towers be built on the site. "Please do not disrespect the memory of the people who died on Sept. 11 by building a mediocre 60- or 70-story building on that site," he said.
    Deirdre Harvey of Valley Stream, who works for New York City Transit, said she wanted to present her own idea for a memorial - an 80-story lighthouse with a museum in the basement.
    Democratic City Councilman Alan Gerson, who represents the Ground Zero area, said he was concerned that the LMDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land, will not follow city regulations in their planning. "We need to remember that this is a democracy, and it would be a travesty if this was pushed through without adhering to the city's land use and environmental regulations," he said.
    The LMDC has set July 1 as the deadline for the submission of six urban designs by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP. A final choice is to be made by Dec. 1.

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