June 2nd - June 8th, 2006
Zuccotti Park Opens at Broadway and Liberty Street
Friday, June 2nd: Shaded below the 54 newly planted honey-locust trees, Brookfield Properties cut the ceremonial ribbon on its renovated park at Broadway and Liberty Streets on June 1st, after just 10 months of construction. Formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park, it was renamed Zuccotti Park in honor of U.S. Chairman of Brookfield Properties John Zuccotti, who is also the chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, former first deputy mayor of the City of New York, and former chairman of the New York City Planning Commission. For more on this story, click here.
Businesses Face Eviction If They Fail to Vacate
Friday, June 2nd: Shops that occupy the space where the planned Fulton Street Transit Hub is to be built will face eviction if they do not vacate their locations, the New York Times reported. The deadline for the 148 affected small businesses was June 1st, and the Metropolitan Transportation Association (MTA) told the Times that they will begin eviction proceedings if the businesses do not vacate the premises. Tim O'Brien, an MTA spokesman, told the paper, "We will follow through. Any delay will delay the overall project and cost millions in taxpayer dollars." O'Brien added that the buildings on the site needed to be vacant by the end of August so that demolition can begin in September, the Times added.
Less than half of the businesses have left, and Representative Jerold Nadler blames the MTA for not having provided them with enough relocation assistance, the paper continued. A federal review conducted by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) at Nadler's request found that the MTA "failed to clearly demonstrate adequate compliance to date" in terms of providing relocation consulting and assistance, the paper added.
Nadler has called for the MTA to extend the deadline for businesses to vacate by three months, the paper reported. But the FTA's review finds more room for compromise, stating that "the areas found lacking in the report have been identified early enough" for businesses to be relocated by the end of August.
Health Registry Sends More Than 70,000 Follow-Up Surveys
Friday, June 2nd: City health officials announced a plan to resurvey 71,000 enrollees of the World Trade Center Health Registry conducted two years ago to help officials understand the long-term health repercussions of living and working near ground zero, the Associated Press reported. Officials will look for proof of permanent respiratory and psychological illness as well as evidence of whether the illnesses have worsened since the attacks, the New York Times reported. The survey, which was arranged after the registry received criticism for failing to reach conclusions of post-September 11th health effects, has been mailed or emailed to registrants, the AP continued.
"We wish we knew what the long-term effects of 9/11 are on the health and mental health of those exposed, but we don't," Dr. Thomas Frieden, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at a Battery Park City news conference announcing the new survey, the Times reported. "One of the best ways we have to get that information is from the participation of the tens of thousands of people who are part of this unique project," he continued.
The survey results are expected to be released at the end of the year, at which point further monitoring and treatment programs may be considered, the Times continued. "The registry is the scientific platform on which additional programmatic decisions can be made," Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, told the paper.
WTC Memorial and Museum on Track
Friday, June 2nd: According to a statement by the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation Executive Committee, planning and fundraising for the WTC Memorial is on track. The committee issued the statement after meeting last week with Governor George Pataki to discuss the building effort and resolve cost and design issues. "We had a productive meeting and are confident that the process outlined by the governor and the mayor to achieve cost clarity on the project is well underway," the committee reported.
Both the governor and mayor have called for building costs to be capped at $500 million, a figure the committee agrees with. According to the statement, Pataki reiterated in the course of the meeting his belief that the state should bear responsibility for the site's infrastructure costs in order to allow the Memorial Foundation to focus on raising money for the Memorial and Museum.
"We are eager to move forward with fundraising," the committee stated. "Upon the expected resolution of cost and finality of design, our fundraising efforts will be large-scale, focusing on both the general public and major donors." There are also plans for a national advertising campaign launch in early July, accompanied by grassroots fundraising efforts.
On Wednesday, the Daily News reported that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is again being considered as a potential builder of the Memorial. Frank Sciame, who was recently appointed by Pataki to reconcile the Memorial budget, is reviewing the plan and is expected to make his recommendation by June 15th, the paper added.
Asbestos Bill Could Widen to Include 9/11 Workers
Monday, June 5th: A new Senate proposal has suggested widening an asbestos bill that has been under consideration for years to include New Yorkers who were here on 9/11, as well as victims of last year's Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the New York Times reported.
The bill, introduced by Representatives Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont), calls for the creation of a $140 billion fund to process thousands of asbestos injury claims. It would allow individuals to collect up to $1.1 million from the companies who made or sold asbestos products and their insurers but then protect the companies from further liability, the paper continued.
Extending the fund's reach to include those affected by 9/11 and the hurricanes could create more support for the legislation needed to establish it, the Times continued, but also raises concerns that the fund would quickly be depleted.
City Considering School in Tower 5
Wednesday, June 7th: The City of New York is considering placing a new intermediate school in Tower 5 at ground zero, according to the New York Post. Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin told the Post, "We've got the fastest growing residential population in the city, and our schools are already overcrowded with all the redevelopment going on around ground zero." Menin continued, "They're out pushing this as a 24/7 community, but with that is an attendant duty to provide the necessary services to support residents." Menin has already met with officials from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office and is planning to meet with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on this issue, the Post continued.
New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg told the Post that enrollment in School District 2, which covers Lower Manhattan, is expected to increase by almost 25 percent by 2014. "It's the largest jump among all the districts in all the city," she told the paper.
The city has already set aside funds to build four new schools in Lower Manhattan, providing 1,890 classroom seats, according to the Post. While a help, it still won't solve the problem of where to place the projected 5,779 new students, the paper continued.
Many parents agree with the idea of adding a school in Tower 5. "It would be great to have another middle school here," Kevin Doherty told the paper, noting that there is presently only one middle or intermediate school south of Canal Street.