December 8th - December 12th, 2008
Church Agreement not Finalized
December 8 – 150 members of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church gathered Saturday in a white tent on the southern edge of the WTC site to mark the day that honors their saint. Many told reporters they are frustrated that their church, which was destroyed on 9-11, still hasn’t been rebuilt. It’s been six months since the church reached an agreement with the Port Authority to build a new church at the northwest corner of Greenwich and Liberty Street, but the agreement is not final according to The New York Times.
PA Executive Director Chris, who attended Saturday’s service, said “There are no sticking points, there are no disagreements, it’s just taking a little longer to finalize the documents.”
Investigation Focuses on Supervisors
December 10 – Several published reports say the Manhattan District Attorney is focusing on six construction supervisors and employees of Bovis Lend Lease and John Galt Corporation, the companies working on decontaminating and deconstructing the Deutsche building in the probe of last year’s fatal fire. The City is negotiating with the DA; apparently the City will avoid criminal charges, admit wrongdoing and agree to enact reforms. Criminal charges in the case are expected to be brought to the grand jury before Christmas.
Ramp to be Dismantled
December 10 – The ramp at Ground Zero is being dismantled over the next month so steel construction on the September 11 Memorial and Museum can proceed. The 460 foot long ramp went up in 2001 after the attacks to allow construction vehicles to enter and exit the site. It’s been used by many dignitaries, including Pope Benedict XVI, Barack Obama and John McCain, to enter the site. It was also used every September 11 by the WTC victims’ family members to walk down to the twin towers’ footprints. A piece of the ramp will be preserved for a permanent museum exhibit.
Lower Manhattan Air Quality Improved
December 10 – Air quality in Lower Manhattan has improved over the last year. The LMCCC’s Director of Environmental Compliance and Coordination Tom Kunkel told Community Board 1, air quality sensors are detecting fewer pollutants in the air. Kunkel credits an increase in inspections for dust and vehicle maintenance at 60 construction sites throughout Lower Manhattan.
Office-to-condo Conversion Slows
December 10 – A real estate expert is predicting the number of office-to-condo conversions in Lower Manhattan will slow dramatically over the next few years .The New York Observer says Michael Shov believes the slowdown will be caused by three factors- the end of tax abatements and subsidies, the seizure of the credit markets and the economic downturn. Figures from the Downtown Alliance show there were 2,278 conversions in the first nine months of 2008; there are only five conversion projects scheduled to open in 2009.
Bovis Negotiating with DA
December 11 – Bovis Lend Lease is negotiating with the Manhattan District Attorney to avoid charges in last year’s fatal fire at the Deutsche bank building. According to The New York Times, the company would institute safety reforms and pay the families of the two firefighters who were killed a cash settlement of possibly a million dollars each. The report says the possibility of an agreement is being considered because an indictment against the company could cause it to collapse, putting people out of work. The families could still pursue a civil suit against Bovis; however the families told The New York Times, they are upset about an agreement that would clear the company of criminal charges because they feel it would give the appearance of the company buying its way out of an indictment.
Ground Zero Workers Trial Expected in spring of 2010
December 11- The lawsuit that 9,000 ground zero workers have filed against the City will go to trial in the spring of 2010, according to several published reports. A federal judge is expected to issue an order approving a case management plan to move forward with 50-60 cases of people who are the most seriously ill. Firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others say they suffered respiratory and other illnesses because they were not given breathing masks during the nine-month rescue and recovery effort at the WTC site.
Staircase Moved to Final Spot
December 11 – The WTC survivor’s staircase is being moved for the last time to its final resting spot at the entrance of the future September 11 museum. The 22 foot high staircase was the last above ground remnant of the WTC complex after the 9-11 attacks. It served as an escape route for people fleeing the buildings before they collapsed.