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August 28, 2009, Downtown Express

August 28, 2009, Downtown Express

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Published by: COMMUNITYMEDIA on Aug 28, 2009
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Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Souvenirs on sale at the new 9/11 Memorial Preview Site on Vesey St.
The vendors who circle the World TradeCenter site hawking disaster-themed souve-nirs are getting some competition.Joe Daniels, president of the NationalSeptember 11 Memorial & Museum, fre-quently walked past the vendors on his wayto work and noticed that tourists who stoppedto gape at the photo flipbooks also asked thevendors about the future of the site, and theydidn’t always get accurate answers.“I wanted us to provide a more authenticexperience,” Daniels said Wednesday morn-ing, standing inside the newly opened 9/11Memorial Preview Site on Vesey St.The 3,000-square-foot preview site, in aformer camera shop near Church St., is equalparts museum, visitors’ center and souvenirshop. A photo timeline around the perimetertraces events from the 1993 bombing to theprojected opening of the 9/11 memorial onSept. 11, 2011. Interactive kiosks allow visi-tors to see live footage from the constructionsite — they can print a time-stamped versionand take it home in a commemorative folio for$4.95 — and to learn about the victims andthe artifacts the future museum will hold. Theycan also share their memories of the day andlearn about community service initiatives.About half the space at the preview site isdevoted to memorabilia, including $18 TwinTowers T-shirts, $3 F.D.N.Y. key chains and$8.95 photo brochures that are less sen-sational than those the vendors sell on thestreet for about the same price.All the proceeds from the preview sitemerchandise will help build the future 9/11memorial and museum, but selling sou-venirs commemorating an event in whichnearly 3,000 people were killed can still bea touchy subject.A 39-year-old woman who handledhuman remains after 9/11 said she was sur-prised to see so much space at the previewsite devoted to souvenirs.“There’s a demand for it,” the woman saidwith resignation.The woman, who did not want her nameprinted, fought back tears as she describedher memories from the aftermath of 9/11,brought to the surface by the photos andvideos at the preview site. “People need toremember,” she said.Of the souvenirs for sale, the woman
Vendors beware. Official W.T.C. souvenirs for sale at new museum
Continued on
 page 5 
Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel 
Council Race
We take a look at three of the five Democratic City Council candidates running inthe Sept. 15 primary in this week’s issue: from left, Margaret Chin, CouncilmemberAlan Gerson and Pete Gleason. Next week, we’ll profile the other two Council hope-fuls in the Downtown race, Arthur Gregory and PJ Kim.
Ed kochtakeson the‘Basterds,’p. 26
downtown express 
Freddy Ferrer
is sticking with his endorsement of 
in the First District City Council race, despite someflyer shenanigans that upset him.Ferrer, former Bronx borough president and theDemocratic nominee for mayor in ’05, announced his sup-port of Gleason earlier this month. But Ferrer also endorsedsome Democratic district leaders who are supporting incum-bent Councilmember
Alan Gerson
, including Ferrer’s long-time friends
John Quinn
Alice Cancel
, who representthe East Side of Lower Manhattan.The trouble started when Ferrer saw a flyer that toutednot only his endorsement of Gleason but also his purportedendorsement of Quinn and Cancel’s opponents,
David Diaz
, who are Gleason supporters.“I was displeased, to say the least,” Ferrer toldUnderCover.Ferrer said Gleason told him he was not responsible forthe flyers and he would have Ramirez and Diaz get them off the streets immediately.“I thought that was the right way to handle it,” Ferrersaid, and he still supports Gleason.But the flyer issues may not be over yet — we hearthere’s another flyer circulating that claims the DowntownIndependent Democrats endorsed both Gleason and districtleader candidate
Paul Newell
. While the Gleason part istrue, D.I.D. did not endorse Newell, who was not even run-ning yet when they made their decision.
The failure of miniMasters and other children’s programsin Tribeca have not dissuaded
Elisa Chen
, 33, from launch-ing her new parent-child center called Body & Mind Buildersat 78 Reade St. next month.Chen is well aware of the recession — she worked infinance before getting laid off last year — and plans tooffer discounts to get families to enroll. The idea behindthe parent-child combinations is to allow parents to get in apilates workout, for example, while their toddlers are learn-ing Mandarin.Chen, who lives in the Financial District, thought upBody & Mind Builders after seeing that P.S. 89 did not giveas much homework or do as much test prep as she expected,and she wanted supplementary classes for her son, who isentering fifth grade.She also had another motivation for starting her ownbusiness rather than looking for a new finance job.“My husband works in finance,” she said, and because of the downturn, “I had no desire for both of us to be in thisindustry.”
Most of the World Trade Center fence along Vesey St.is now a blank blue wall after the Port Authority removedall images related to Silverstein Properties, its nemesis inan ongoing financing battle. Photos of work at the Port’sFreedom Tower, One W.T.C., remain, along with close-upsof steel workers, but images showing the full site plan withSilverstein’s Church St. towers have disappeared, along withthose that showed the towers’ shops.
Candace McAdams
, Port spokesperson, said the disap-pearing renderings are “not at all” related to the dispute withSilverstein. The Port is just switching the old images withsome new ones to continue showing the latest progress onthe site, she said.
Gee, we hope it wasn’t anything we wrote.A new Quinnipiac University poll says that most NewYork City voters think World Trade Center development isgoing “very” or “somewhat badly” (53 percent), and evenmore Manhattanites, 63 percent, are pessimistic about thesituation.By a 2-1 margin, most city voters have little faith in thePort Authority’s ability to finish the first part of the memorialby Sept. 11, 2011 or open the Freedom Tower by December2013. Maybe because the projected opening of the transithub has been pushed back until June, 2014, optimism isalmost 50-50 about finishing that one on time.It crossed our minds that perhaps W.T.C. developer
paid for this poll to embarrass the Port, butQuinipiac does its surveys on its own. Quinnipiac has beenpolling on W.T.C. issues for about seven years and has neverfound as much pessimism about progress there.“Do New Yorkers believe anything the Port Authoritytells them,”
Maurice Carroll
, Quinnipiac’s director, asked ina statement. “The answer is ‘no.’”
August 28 - September 3, 2009
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Read the Archives
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Letterto the Editor
145 S
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downtown express 
Pete Gleason
City Council candidatePete Gleason is so concernedabout the long-delayed 9/11memorial at the WorldTrade Center site that hethinks most other work onthe site should wait until thememorial is complete.Gleason, 46, said he isfrustrated by the inactionof the Port Authority, whichowns the site, and theincumbent CouncilmemberAlan Gerson. The lack of even a temporary memorialat the Trade Center site “is adisgrace,” Gleason said dur-ing a 45-minute interviewlast week with editors and reporters of Downtown Express.To expedite the memorial construction, Gleason suggesteddelaying the building of towers along Church St. DeveloperSilverstein Properties has begun building Tower 4 but wouldneed public subsidies to finish it and to start the other two tow-ers. Gleason opposes granting those subsidies.“That can be a vacant spot while the memorial is being built,”Gleason said of the sites for the three Church St. towers. “Thelocations you’re talking about can be used as construction stag-ing areas for building this memorial…. The first and foremostthing that should be built is the memorial.”Gleason’s hesitancy to spend public money on private officetowers is similar to the Port Authority’s position in the disputewith Silverstein. But Gleason made it clear that he’s no friend of the Port Authority: Gleason also repeated his called for the Portto be disbanded, saying, “It should get out of Dodge.”The City Council has little control over the Port Authority,a bi-state agency created by Congress and controlled by twogovernors. When Gleason was asked how he would effect thechanges he proposed, he said he would “shine a light on theproject” to provide transparency, but he did not go into specifics.Gleason said he could not recall ever asking an official at the PortAuthority or the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. about W.T.C. rebuilding or demolishing the former Deutsche Bankbuilding at public meetings over the past six years.Gleason has also made education a central issue of his cam-paign, criticizing Gerson for not solving the overcrowding prob-lem during his eight years in office. Gleason repeated that criticismduring the interview last week, saying Gerson’s efforts to bringnew school seats to the neighborhood are too little too late.If elected, Gleason committed to opening another elementaryschool to Downtown. But he was not familiar with the two K-8schools already in the pipeline — the Spruce Street School andP.S./I.S. 276 in Battery Park City — which are opening with justkindergarten classes this fall.Asked about the schools, Gleason said, “There’s one a littleeast of Tribeca and there’s another one in Battery Park City…. Iunderstand one is a middle school.”Gleason acknowledged that he didn’t know the specificson many issues and had not formed an opinion on how tozone the schools.“I’m out on the street,” he said. “I’m not in rooms havingmeetings…. A lot of people are expecting me to do the jobbefore I’m elected, and you know what, that’s not the way
Margaret Chin
If Margaret Chin wereat a poker table, shemight be the type to go“all-in” a lot. Her styleis to hold to her positionand risk the offer on thetable, trying to convincethe other player to backdown and fold.Chin, 56, said ulti-mately the communitycan get more amenitieslike affordable housingand more school space if it holds out before mak-ing a deal. When it comes tothe Seward Park UrbanRenewal Area, which has remained mostly undevelopedfor 40 years, she said she would insist that any newdevelopment include a school and that 100 percent of the apartments built there would be set aside for moder-ate and low income people.Asked if she might accept some market rate housingthere if the sites continued to languish, she said: “That’sdown the line but we got to start with the premise thatthis is the kind of housing we need. If we start saying‘oh market rate and then do subsidized [housing] or thefinancing doesn’t work’ – that’s B.S.”In an interview with Downtown Express last week,Chin said there are many non-profit developers whooften get shut out of the process because the city looksfor the highest bidder.Chin, who is running for the City Council fulltime,until recently was the deputy executive director of AsianAmericans for Equality, a non-profit advocacy groupwhich has developed affordable housing in Chinatownand the Lower East Side.Some residents near Seward Park oppose any moreaffordable housing in the area and many of them are alsostrong supporters of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.Chin said it won’t be hard talking with Silver aboutSeward Park. “I am going to,” she said with a smile. “Ican work with him.”Similar to her Seward Park position, Chin said shedid not like the agreement 20 years ago to build P.S. 234in Tribeca because it included a high-rise private officetower and she would have said no to the deal a few yearsago to build the Spruce Street School, because it camewith a condo tower.“An 80-story tower luxury building in exchange for just a school? I mean the havoc that’s created there withthe traffic congestion,” she said. “And who is going tobe living there? Is it going to be filled up? It’s a bigquestion.”Chin was careful not to say she would have let the schoolidea die, just that she thought the community could havegotten a lower tower, some affordable housing and theschool if it held out for more.Councilmember Alan Gerson, one of Chin’s opponents,said affordable housing at the Spruce St. site was not pos-sible because the developer could have built the tower as
 Alan Gerson
City CouncilmemberAlan Gerson started arecent interview by para-phrasing former MayorEd Koch.“For a legislator to real-ly have completed anythingof major significance,”Gerson said, “you really doneed three terms.”Gerson is hoping that,like Koch, he will win athird term in office to fin-ish his agenda. But first,Gerson, 51, has to takeon four challengers inthe Democratic primarySept. 15.In a wide-ranging interview with Downtown Express edi-tors and reporters this week, Gerson talked about the raceand his hopes for the next four years.On the oft-delayed World Trade Center site, Gersonmade several promises, including that the memorial wouldopen by the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 with permanentpedestrian access. Gerson also committed to putting a busmanagement plan in place and resolving the uncertaintiesabout the performing arts center.Although the City Council has little control over most of those rebuilding issues, Gerson said he would use his “bullypulpit” to make good on the commitments, and his constitu-ents should hold him accountable. But if that’s so, Gersonwas asked, then shouldn’t he be held accountable for thedelays at the Trade Center site over the past eight years?“No,” Gerson said, “for two reasons.” First, he had lessinfluence in the past because of the high-powered politicsof the site. The delays over the past eight years were oftenrelated to insurance and governance disputes, not actualconstruction issues, he said. Second, Gerson said he had lessexperience in the past.Gerson did not promise to resolve the current disputeover office tower financing between W.T.C. developerSilverstein Properties and the Port Authority, which ownsthe site. Gerson thinks Silverstein and the Port Authorityboth need to put more money into the project.In addition to the World Trade Center, Gerson roundedout his third-term agenda by committing to: open the newpark on Governors Island and begin work on a science con-ference center there; get a new K-8 school approved for NorthTribeca and Soho; and open a law-and-justice-themed highschool in the Civic Center (he said New York Law School andall of the district attorney candidates are supportive).During the interview, Gerson acknowledged for the firsttime that disorganization is a problem for his office. This fall,whether he wins the primary or not, Gerson plans to hire aconsultant at his own expense to review his office’s technologyand personnel, and he said he would make the results public.“I’m always trying to do better,” Gerson said.He also acknowledged that communication has been aproblem during the past eight years.“Sometimes, people were not fully aware of everythingwe were doing,” Gerson said. “Because we got so caught upin the doing of it, we neglected the communication of it. And
August 28 - September 3, 2009
Council Candidates: Where Do They Stand?
This week we look at three of the five Democratic candidates in the First City Council District primary, Sept. 15. The district includes all of Manhattan south of Canal St., Chinatown, Soho and parts of the Village and Lower East Side. Next week we’ll focus on PJ Kim and Arthur Gregory.
Downtown Express file photoby Elisabeth RobertDowntown Express photoby Jefferson Siegel Downtown Express photoby Jefferson Siegel 
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