AM New York
March 13, 2006
Construction begins at WTC
BY JUSTIN ROCKET SILVERMAN
Without shovels in the ground or political ceremony, construction began today on the World Trade Center memorial while Sept. 11 families headed to court to fight plans to build over the twin towers' historic footprints.
Trucks rolled down a ramp into the site with lumber and other equipment at about 8 a.m. About 10 construction workers arrived to begin cleaning the memorial area of debris, checking the towers' footprints for damage and installing protective wooden coverings over parts of the original foundation.
After six to eight weeks of preliminary work, concrete will be poured to create footings to support the "Reflecting Absence" design.
"This memorial fails because it destroys the authentic remnants of the Twin Towers' footprints," said Anthony Gardner, executive director of the World Trade Center United Family Group. "It's our position they are working unlawfully, that historic preservation laws are being violated here by working without these issues being resolved."
Gardner, whose brother was killed on 9/11, said his group has filed an injunction to halt construction on the memorial.
He said the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is under so much political pressure to begin work at the site that it is proceeding with what he calls "faulty plans."
Current plans for the $330 million memorial and $160 million underground museum would entail the removal of steel perimeter columns that made up the original Twin Towers. Protesters say that without the columns, it will be impossible for future visitors to grasp the full dimensions of the destroyed buildings.
The LMDC issued a statement saying that plans for the memorial would not be derailed by protesters or their attempt to secure an injunction.
"We plan to proceed on schedule with building a memorial that both pays tribute to those we lost and honors historic preservation principles," the statement reads.
Initial work on the memorial that begins Monday will be limited to site preparation and debris removal. In two or three months, workers are expected to begin installing the actual structure of the memorial.
"The LMDC is consumed with getting this memorial done rather than getting it done right," Gardner said. "If they need to start showing some tangible signs of progress at Ground Zero, why aren't they building the Freedom Tower? The groundbreaking for Freedom Tower was a whole year ago."
Mayor Bloomberg was asked about the impending memorial protests Monday at the Throgs Neck St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Bronx.
"We went through an open process where everybody had a chance to participate," he said of the memorial design. "I'm sure everybody that's seen the design likes some things about it and doesn't like others. But we have to make a decision. That decision was made. Now we have to go and build it."
Copyright 2006 AM New York