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Kris
June 13th, 2003, 11:13 PM
June 13, 2003

Officials Plan Speedy Ground Zero Environmental Review

By EDWARD WYATT

Rebuilding officials said yesterday that they hoped to complete a review of the environmental impact of the proposed construction at the World Trade Center site by next April. This would allow them to lay the cornerstone of a 1,776-foot tower in August 2004, during the Republican National Convention.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is expected to be the lead agency on the environmental review, according to a letter, released yesterday, from the agency to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is overseeing the federally financed rebuilding project.

In giving the corporation less than a year to complete an environmental impact statement and review, officials said they realized that they were setting an aggressive timetable.

John C. Whitehead, the corporation chairman, said the schedule "is a very ambitious one," particularly given the large number of city, state and federal agencies that will have a voice in the project.

But, he said, "we should be able to present a pretty clean case to the environmental people." Mr. Whitehead added: "Environmental issues often hold up projects for years and years, as we all know. We simply must not allow that to happen."

Some environmental advocacy organizations said they believed that the schedule set by the corporation, a city-state agency, was feasible, if optimistic.

"These things are rarely done in that kind of time period," Ronald Shiffman, director of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, said in an interview. "The good news is that they want to move it quickly and efficiently, as long as they don't bypass the public review process."

The schedule calls for a draft statement laying out the scope of the projects at the trade center site to be released next week, after final adoption by the development corporation's board. A public hearing on the projects will be conducted on July 23. A draft environmental impact statement will be released in October, with further hearings in November. The final environmental impact statement and general project plan is scheduled to be completed in April.

Kevin Rampe, the interim president of the development corporation, said the agency could begin construction even earlier in the summer of 2004 if the environmental review process is completed. Officials also pointed out that the agency began a search for consultants to work on the environmental review as early as April 2002, so the timeline was not as short as it might appear.

The development corporation also agreed to schedule a series of community forums throughout Lower Manhattan this year to hear from residents and business owners about community priorities for the $1.3 billion in remaining federal funds being held by the agency.

Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have disagreed about some of the potential uses for the money, with the governor generally favoring transportation and other structural projects and the mayor seeking funds for housing and improvements to the East River waterfront.

Advocates for low-income housing packed the development corporation's board meeting yesterday and silently held up signs asking the agency to turn over some of the money for housing projects. Last year, the Bloomberg administration requested that the agency set aside some of the money to help create new housing downtown.

Bettina Damiani, a project director for Good Jobs New York and an organizer of the housing protest yesterday, said the current plans for new housing in Lower Manhattan created "economic segregation" because it would be affordable only for those with high incomes.

Mr. Whitehead said, however, that the agency's remaining money "needs to be spent for a great number of different purposes, and this is not the only one."

Daniel Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, told reporters yesterday that the mayor and the governor were having "early but productive discussions" about how the $1.3 billion would be spent.

Mr. Whitehead created a brief tempest yesterday when, in response to a reporter's question, he said that "the door is slightly ajar" to raising the trade center's memorial to ground level from 30 feet below ground, where Daniel Libeskind, the architect, had placed it. Some downtown residents have sought the change, saying it would make it easier to cross the site.

Later, however, the corporation released a statement reversing Mr. Whitehead's remarks. The statement quoted him as saying: "We are committed to preserving Libeskind's vision, a hallmark of which is the recessed memorial setting, and the winning memorial design must be consistent with that vision."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

tugrul
June 14th, 2003, 12:17 AM
Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have disagreed about some of the potential uses for the money, with the governor generally favoring transportation and other structural projects and the mayor seeking funds for housing and improvements to the East River waterfront.
[snip]
Bettina Damiani, a project director for Good Jobs New York and an organizer of the housing protest yesterday, said the current plans for new housing in Lower Manhattan created "economic segregation" because it would be affordable only for those with high incomes.

Heh, I'm waiting for them to claim that a direct train ride from JFK to downtown will put taxi drivers out of work and further the economic segregation.

What benefits does a city derive from building low income housing? There are obvious returns on investment on transportation improvements like a direct JFK link, and I'm wondering what we get if we give up that revenue generating option.

yanni111
June 14th, 2003, 01:31 AM
i really hope they get rid of this 30 foot hole in the ground stuff. It feels like a pretty morbid idea and i just dont see the reasoning. Because people were killed in the basement levels? Why does that matter? The whole thing would be so much more beautiful and inviting if it were ground level where sunlight could reach the entire area.

ZippyTheChimp
June 14th, 2003, 08:10 AM
Symbolism.

A thirty foot drop is small in relationship to the area.

There will be sufficient sunlight. The site is open to the south and west. For a thirty foot structure to cast a significant shadow, the sun would have to be so low that the surrounding buildings would block it anyway.

Whatever design is chosen will determine if the site is beautiful and inviting.

Evan
June 14th, 2003, 11:34 AM
Quote: from tugrul on 11:17 pm on June 13, 2003
What benefits does a city derive from building low income housing? There are obvious returns on investment on transportation improvements like a direct JFK link, and I'm wondering what we get if we give up that revenue generating option.


Really, what the city should do is both. *Improve transportation downtown and and provide some low income housing. *Manhattan is a very expensive place to live, and ordinary workers, such as police men, firemen, teachers, etc, should be able to live on the island, instead of having to commute. *That's why there should be some low income housing.

tugrul
June 14th, 2003, 03:36 PM
Quote: from Evan on 10:34 am on June 14, 2003
Manhattan is a very expensive place to live, and ordinary workers, such as police men, firemen, teachers, etc, should be able to live on the island, instead of having to commute. *That's why there should be some low income housing.

I was about to comment about Alphabet City, which seemed like a massive swath of low income housing to my untrained eye, but a google search brought up the following article.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/01_24/b3736044.htm

Seems interesting... Manhattan's value is contagious if left unregulated.

The only issue I see with doing both is that a large transportation project is a one shot deal. All the money, all the construction has to be done non-stop to avoid hell. And boom, we happen to have 1.3 billion in one chunk, ready to be spent. Whereas it certainly seems low income housing can be built in phases as chunks of money become available.

The only hole in that plan is that the city is deeper in the ground than that pit will be, so money won't be available from the city.

Derek2k3
June 14th, 2003, 09:14 PM
The city won't be in a financial crisis forever you know.Therefore the money should be used to get both projects started. By the way this low income housing includes the East River project which is the *BPC like addition which includes not just low income housing but parkland, and cultural facilities bettering the lives of the people who live and work there. Why should the city focus more on the people who work there instead of the people who live there-that's why the area is in the condition it is now-even prior to 9/11.

ZippyTheChimp
July 1st, 2003, 10:57 PM
Some info on environmental review:

LMDC Begins Environmental Review for Ground Zero

June 17, 2003

The board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation approved this morning a draft plan for the World Trade Center site that will be the starting point for formal environmental review over the next several months. As lead agency for the rebuilding of Ground Zero, the LMDC is responsible for shepherding the extensive plans through the review process; no construction can begin without both federal and state approval.

The board also voted to name Kevin Rampe as the agency's permanent president. Chairman John Whitehead received authorization to negotiate an employment contract with Rampe, who has served the agency as interim president since Lou Tomson stepped down at the end of February.

Documents released yesterday pertaining to the WTC site plan included a general project plan (GPP) and draft scope of a generic environmental impact statement (EIS). Together they lay out a wide-ranging program of study that the agency aims to complete by next spring.

*
Review process will look at the environental impact of the *WTC site plan
Establishing the framework for what is sure to be a massive product when finished -- the draft scope of the EIS alone runs 27 pages, plus diagrams -- the GPP and draft scope summarize the plan to rebuild Ground Zero with a new street grid, mix of commercial buildings, cultural facilities like a museum, and a memorial to the victims of 9/11. The draft scope outlines how the final EIS will analyze the impact of the existing plan on a variety of concerns, including but not limited to
- * * * * *commercial and retail space and housing;
- * * * * * community facilities and services;
- * * * * *open space and recreational facilities;
- * * * * *infrastructure, sanitation and energy use;
- * * * * *traffic and parking;
- * * * * *pedestrian movement and transit, and
- * * * * *shadows, air quality, and noise.

One technique that will be used in developing an EIS is to compare the impacts of the proposed building program to other scenarios. Among these alternatives are the WTC site if left in its current state and the WTC site if restored to its condition before September 11, 2001, but there are others as well. The review process is a standard one for all urban development projects, both in New York City and many other jurisdictions inside and outside of the state.

LMDC officials said work on the environmental review will "parallel" the planning process. The process allows for the refinement of both the plans themselves as well as the scope of the review, whether in response to public concerns or other circumstances.

While there has been extensive conceptual input to date on various plans for Ground Zero, next month will mark the first public hearing concerning a planning document intended for formal federal and state review. That hearing is set for the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on July 23, from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. The LMDC will also accept written comments, with the initial period for submitting such comments closing on August 4.

Assuming the draft scope of review is approved, the LMDC aims to submit a draft EIS by this fall and a final EIS by April 2004, each of which will be followed by comment periods. The timetable is consistent with that laid out by Gov. George Pataki and others, who have called for the cornerstone of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower at the site to be laid by August 2004.

The board also authorized expenditures of an additional $2 million for environmental review consultants and land-use counsel. Environmental work began last year, but additional funds are needed now that the review process is intensifying.

*
Kevin Rampe named LMDC President
"I think businesses and residents are going to be very interested in the environmental review process, like they've been in everything so far," said board member Carl Weisbrod, who is president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. "That's what the environmental review process is all about."
Weisbrod was one of only a few board members who attended the special board meeting in person; others were present via conference call. Chairing the meeting in Whitehead's absence, Weisbrod read a prepared statement from Whitehead that commended Rampe for his "outstanding" leadership.

Weisbrod offered his own informal congratulations, as did many other board members. Also offering praise was board member Dan Doctoroff, the city's deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding.

"These last three months in particular," Doctoroff said, "we have been very, very impressed [by Rampe] and enjoyed the emerging partnerships between us, and are absolutely convinced that Kevin is the right guy for the job."
Rampe, who previously served as the LMDC's executive vice president and general counsel, and as an advisor to Gov. Pataki, thanked his colleagues: "It's great to have the opportunity to work with a group of people so dedicated to moving the rebuilding effort forward."

Draft Scope of the GEIS:
http://www.renewnyc.org/content/pdfs/WTCDraftScope.pdf

Information on the federal environmental review process can be found at:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/index.html

Information on the NYS review process here:
http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lgss/seqr.htm