Frustrated Public Wants More Inclusion in WTC Planning

Tue January 28, 2003 - National Edition

NEW YORK (AP) The public was dissatisfied with nine proposals for a rebuilt World Trade Center site when showed a presentation of the plans on January 13.

The presentation, which took place at Pace University, gave New Yorkers a chance to voice their opinions of what the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency charged with rebuilding the site and revitalizing the area around it, is considering for downtown Manhattan.

But attendees of the public forum complained about everything from architectural design to the amount of space being devoted to commercial use at the 16-acre trade center site.

“When we see the eighth wonder of the world we’ll know, and we haven’t seen it yet,” said John Hakala, spokesman for Team Twin Towers, a group that is focusing on the construction of a memorial to those lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Bruce Petrocelli, whose son was killed in the World Trade Center’s north tower in the 2001 attack, said planners should focus on the memorial primarily.

“The memorials should be planned first,” Petrocelli said. “There’s too much office space in lower Manhattan that is empty. If the governor doesn’t take control, we’re just gonna be floundering around wasting time and money.”

Suzanne Fass, a lower Manhattan resident, called the design proposals “individually unacceptable” and implored planners to hold more public meetings.

The LMDC, created by Gov. George Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after the terrorist attack, released its first batch of six proposals for the trade center site last July. The plans, which all featured office buildings grouped around a memorial to the nearly 2,800 victims, were dismissed as bland and boring.

Last month, nine new plans were released and put on display at the World Financial Center. Those proposals were being commented on by the public at the Jan. 13 hearing.

Five of the proposals call for buildings that would surpass Malaysia’s Petronas Towers as the world’s tallest.

The nine designs, by seven teams of architects, were commissioned by the LMDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site. The agencies together will choose one plan by next month.

The Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York criticized the hearing and wanted the LMDC to host a more interactive dialogue rather than a conventional public hearing.

“There is still much to debate, but today we are asked to express ourselves in two-minute sound bytes,” said Ron Shiffman, an alliance member. “Now that we have even more substance to debate in nine new plans, LMDC seems to have forgotten what productive public participation looks like.”

A design for the memorial is to be selected in a separate process by next Sept. 11, the second anniversary of the attack.