March 24th - March 30th, 2006
New Helicopter Service Out of Lower Manhattan
Tuesday, March 28th: U.S. Helicopter now offers an eight-minute helicopter ride to JFK airport out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, the New York Times reported. Flights leave hourly and cost $139 each way, and passengers go through security at the heliport so that they can be delivered directly to the American Airlines terminal at JFK, the paper continued.
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano lauded the new service, telling the Times: "This is much more than just to have something nice. It is an essential element to rebuilding Lower Manhattan." U.S. Helicopter has a fleet of eight-passenger Sikorsky S-76 helicopters that can carry up to 150,000 passengers to and from area airports each year, the paper added.
Others, though, take issue with the diversion of eight screening staffers from JFK to the heliport and the purchase of new screening and bomb detection equipment for the service, this given a limit placed by Congress on the number of screeners the Transportation Security Administration can employ. "The bottom line here is that there are not enough screeners to go around," Senator Charles Schumer told the Times. "The fact that we are taking screeners that are needed at airports to satisfy a luxury market on the government's dime is a problem."
Jerry G. Murphy, the chief executive of U.S. Helicopter, told the paper: "Our mission is to make the airport commute easier."
Human Remains Discovered Near WTC Site
Wednesday, March 29th: More human remains were found by workers cleaning toxic waste from the top of the Deutsche Bank building on Friday, March 24th, the Associated Press reported. Fire department crews thoroughly inspected the building last fall, discovering 10 bone fragments, but the more recent findings lead some victims' family members to conclude that forensic experts should search the building again, the newswire continued.
Diane Horning, whose son was killed on 9/11, told the AP: "I'm not trying to malign the construction workers, but this is not what they're trained to do." The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) said in a statement: "Anything found at the building will be treated with dignity and respect," the New York Times reported.
Webcam Documenting WTC Site Progress
Wednesday, March 29th: The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) launched a webcam today documenting construction progress at the World Trade Center site, the New York Times reported. Updated footage appears on the website each hour; currently the camera is trained on the World Trade Center Memorial construction taking place below its 20th floor perch, the paper continued. LMDC President Stefan Pryor told the Times, "We want people to observe how we protect the old as we build the new. It's critical that people have the opportunity to observe the smaller actions that make a big difference."
9/11 Tapes to Be Released
Thursday, March 30th: The City of New York plans to release about 130 tapes of calls made to 911 the morning of the World Trade Center attacks on Friday, Newsday reported. According to the New York Times, names of some of the callers will be released as well. The New York Times went to court in 2002 along with nine victims' family members to compel the city to release the tapes. Of the 130 tapes, 28 will now include the name of the caller, the New York Times added.
Family members were informed of the planned release by letters, according to Newsday. Jill Abbott, who lost her father in the attacks, told the paper: "I can only imagine what is on those tapes and how frightening it will sound. It's the reality of the day."
The tapes will only include the operator's voice in all 130 calls; however, family members will be able to request the complete unedited versions, Newsday added. Some family members, such as Marilyn Reich, whose husband worked in the south tower, are anxious to hear the tapes. "I'd sell my soul right now to be able to hear my husband's voice," said told Newsday.
Admission Charge Considered for WTC Museum
Thursday, March 30th: Visitors to the World Trade Center Memorial may have to pay an admission fee, the Daily News reported. Gretchen Dykstra, head of the WTC Memorial Foundation, emphasized that there would never be any charge to visit the memorial but urged her board to charge an entry fee to the museum because the operating costs may exceed $40 million a year, the paper continued. Dykstra added that family members and first responders should not be charged, the New York Post added.