World Trade Center Facts that Cannot be Ignored

Posted on Sun 09/11/2011 by

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By Joe Wright

Hallowed Ground versus property rights. Just because someone happens to die on another’s property, that does not grant them any rights with respect to how the property is used. Of course you can exercise your freedom of speech and try to persuade the owner to do something you desire, but you must recognize that you have no rights in the matter whatsoever.

The only parties who have the right to build on the WTC site are the Port Authority which owns the land, Larry Silverstein who holds the lease for the WTC itself and Westfield America which held the lease for retail space.

Listening but not hearing. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) sponsored several Listening to The City (LTTC) events. But if something was said that they didn’t like, they chose not to hear it. For example:

Well over half the people at the Javits Center meeting rejected the LMDC’s six proposals for new buildings on the WTC site. “Looks too much like Albany,” many derisively said of the plans.

During the online LTTC program, 60% voted that the towers should be rebuilt as tall or taller than the original towers.

In spite of these votes, the LMDC refused to consider any proposal for the building of towers as tall or taller.

They listened, but they did not hear. That is, unless you were a memorialist.

Memorials. Proposals ranged from dedicating the entire 16 acre site of the WTC as a memorial to not building a memorial at all. The LMDC, in this case, chose to listen to and hear only the memorial advocates. They turned a deaf ear to anyone who said there should be no memorial. And they listened with near deafness to anyone who said the memorial should be in proportion to the numbers killed and injured.

Alexander Garvin, LMDC Vice President for Planning, Design and Development, remarked at a NY1 Town Hall Meeting, “I’ll guarantee you that the entire site will be a memorial.” While this might not have been meant to be taken literally, it is an indication of the narrow mindedness and shallow thinking of the LMDC. They lived up to the popular interpretation of their name, the Leave Manhattan Destroyed Corporation.

George E. Pataki, New York State Governor at the time, guaranteed that the footprints of the twin towers would not be built on. Ex-mayor Rudolf Giuliani caved to the victims’ families and said he wanted the entire site to be a memorial.

All of this even though residents who live around the WTC pleaded that their neighborhood not be turned into a cemetery, that they not be reminded of the horror of 9/11 everyday for the rest of their lives when passing by or through the site.

Memorials that have been built, have been discrete and in proportion. None have consumed the entire “battlefield.” Over 60,000 were killed in the Vietnam War. Compare that number to the space occupied by that war’s memorial. Consider Hiroshima where a modest memorial was built and the entire city rebuilt. Consider the Pentagon which was made whole and not insanely memorialized.

To talk of anything other than a modest WTC memorial is to deal in the absurd. It is also absurd to allow the 3,000 some victims’ families to dictate the future of Lower Manhattan and thus the entire city.

No one will work in a WTC tower rebuilt as tall or taller. Some won’t. So what? Jonathan Hakala, whose company was on the 77th Floor, said he would return. And so would thousands of others. How many people have refused to work in existing tall buildings? Some did. So what?

There’s no need for all the office space in this depressed economy. Such optimism! When the original towers were built, there was no demand. The Empire State Building was empty for years as was Rockefeller Center. Construction wasn’t halted. In New York, we build on speculation and with confidence that we will succeed. Besides, new twin towers wouldn’t be ready for occupancy for years to come. Should we just bury our heads in the sand?

Not so very long before the 9/11 terrorist attack, local politicians and representatives from New York City’s biggest businesses met to determine how to secure the City’s ability to grow in the face of the steadily diminishing supply of office space. Now that the WTC and its 11 million square feet of office space has disappeared from the market, doesn’t this greatly exacerbate this problem?

Rebuilding the towers would create new targets for terrorists. This is said as if there are no other tall buildings that could be targeted. What about the Sears Tower in Chicago or the Empire State Building? Should we tear them down because they could be targets? Ron DeVito of Team Twin Towers said, “You can’t walk two blocks in NYC without seeing a building that could be a target.”

Affordable housing must be included in any rebuilding plan. Whenever you see the term “affordable housing,” identify its real meaning: government housing or government subsidized housing. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch whether in housing or anything else.

Subsidies will come out of everyone else’s pockets whether they can afford it or not. Peter will be robbed to provide housing for Paul.

And, must it be said, that Lower Manhattan is and has been for years the financial center of the nation, if not the world? There are plenty of areas in the City for residential development. The WTC site clearly is not one of them.

Defending the towers. Many ignorantly characterized the Twin Towers as deathtraps. Many accused them of being responsible for the deaths of almost 3,000 people. The World Trade Center Towers didn’t kill anyone. The killers were the terrorists who flew planes into the buildings and those who supported and sponsored them. The terrorists were the killers. Let us never lose sight of that fact.

The towers saved lives. They stood long enough for tens of thousands of people to get out before their collapse. Certainly, more lives could have been saved if the buildings had been built differently, with modern techniques and materials. But that’s classic Monday morning quarterbacking.

The towers stood and therefore tens of thousands of lives were saved. It is a defamation to call them deathtraps. Everyone who survived 9/11 should thank the designers, the engineers, the construction workers and the Port Authority personnel who operated the towers. You owe your lives to those many people. And to the towers themselves.

Family Security Matters Contributor Joe Wright is currently editing a book about the World trade Center, featuring contributions from various authors.

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