September 14th - September 20th, 2007
City to Roll Out Enhanced Downtown Emergency Alert System
September 20th: At a City Council hearing Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler testified on the city's plan to improve crisis communications capabilities in the event of future emergencies downtown, Newsday and the Daily News reported. According to Skyler, the city plans to launch a revamped emergency email notification system by mid-October, a pilot program for a new text-messaging notification system by the end of 2007, and a pilot program for a reverse 911 system that would call affected residents in the event of an emergency by early 2008, the New York Sun reported.
The communications push follows the August 18th fire at the former Deutsche Bank building in which two firefighters were killed. Amid criticism that emergency notification did not come quickly enough following the fire, the city and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) have agreed that the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will take over the emergency email notification system, Newsday reported.
"They [the LMDC] took on a responsibility, but they don't have the 24/7 capability that OEM does," Skyler told Newsday of the decision to move the email notification system to the city's agency.
"I want to be able to partner with agencies like OEM because a city agency with a large headcount and a 24/7 presence is going to, in the event of an extraordinary emergency, be better suited to delivering certain things than we can," LMDC Chairman Avi Schick told Newsday.
Developer Donates $1.3M to Future Downtown Playground
September 20th: New York City real estate developer Kent Swig has donated $1.3 million to complete the financing necessary to build a new park at Burling Slip between Front and South Streets, the New York Sun reported.
Swig, whose companies own about 4 million square feet of commercial and residential space in Lower Manhattan, made the donation in honor of his deceased twin brother, Robert.
The new play space, called Imagination Playground, is being designed by architectural firm the Rockwell Group and will cost $2 million to build. "It will add to the quality of life for everyone that lives in the financial district," Swig told the Sun. Swig approached Community Board 1 wanting to donate to the community, and the community board suggested the playground project. "We thought an introduction to David Rockwell and Imagination Playground was a great fit," CB1 Chairperson Julie Menin told the Sun.
Deutsche Bank Demolition Plan Imminent
September 20th: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) Chairman Avi Schick said yesterday that the rebuilding agency hopes to have a work plan in place for deconstructing the former Deutsche Bank building within the next month, the New York Sun reported.
Schick would not speculate on when work -- halted after the August 18th fire at the building -- would resume, but he said that the LMDC is considering separating the tasks of deconstruction and decontamination, which previously had been conducted simultaneously, in order to minimize risk and reduce complexity.
The LMDC also has agreed to reseal the building as soon as possible to prevent the possibility of any toxins escaping into the environment, the Downtown Express reported. The LMDC had previously said it planned to reseal the building after remedial repair work on the site was complete and regulatory agencies had agreed on a new safety plan for the site.
The agreement to reseal the building was reached during a Wednesday meeting between officials from the city, the LMDC, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies' technical experts are now working out the specifics of how the resealing will take place, the Express reported.
Alliance for Downtown New York Names New President
September 19th: The Alliance for Downtown New York, the business improvement district for the Lower Manhattan area, has appointed Elizabeth Berger as its president, the New York Times reported.
Berger, a Lower Manhattan resident, has held multiple federal, state, and local government positions over the past 20 years and serves as government relations advisor to arts, education, and nonprofit groups.
She succeeds Eric Deutsch, who left the Alliance in June.
Statue of Liberty Crown to Remain Closed
September 19th: The National Park Service said Tuesday that it has no plans to reopen the Statue of Liberty's crown to visitors, citing fire and health concerns created by the narrow spiral staircase that serves as the crown's only means of access, the New York Times reported.
"Our primary concerns about public access to the Statue of Liberty's crown are safety and health concerns, not terrorism concerns," Daniel Wenk, deputy director of the park service, said at a Congressional hearing on the subject. According to Wenk, the staircase to the crown was never intended for public use, but instead for periodic maintenance.
New York Representative Anthony Weiner helped convince the House of Representatives to pass a nonbinding, symbolic resolution in June to direct $1 million toward reopening the crown and also called for Tuesday's hearings, the first since the crown was closed six years ago.
"Americans should have the right to visit every nook and cranny of our National Parks System," he said in a statement, asserting that the decision to keep the crown closed is a matter of funding.