This just in
As seen in today's New York Daily News, by 9/11 family members Anthony Gardner & Particia Reilly:
|New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com|
|Memory lapse |
By ANTHONY GARDNER and PATRICIA REILLY
Monday, January 2nd, 2006
Congress and U.S. taxpayers gave the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. $2.78 billion to redevelop the World Trade Center site, entrusting them with the duty of building a magnificent memorial to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Just months before construction of the memorial is slated to begin, the LMDC is offering the American public a bargain basement version of Michael Arad's "Reflecting Absence."
The LMDC's latest iteration of Arad's design is one that is 31% smaller than the original, and the central waterfalls - the most powerful design feature - will only operate nine months out of the year. LMDC continues to shrink the memorial despite the fact the original design was too small to accommodate the estimated millions who will make a pilgrimage to the site. The memorial is being built with only one way in and one way out, putting the safety and security of future visitors in peril.
It is insulting that with all of the financial resources at its disposal the LMDC would try to foist an ever-shrinking memorial on the American people and then ask them to pay for it.
The fact that LMDC failed to consider the extra costs involved with heating the memorial's massive waterfalls so they may flow in the winter months reflects its gross mismanagement of the redevelopment. As reported in the Daily News, LMDC has misspent millions in tax dollars on projects completely unrelated to Sept. 11, such as giving $10 million to SoHo's Drawing Center and funding the pet projects of wealthy elites who serve on the LMDC board as they continue to shrink the memorial and refuse to pay heating bills.
Take Back the Memorial, an alliance of major Sept. 11 family groups, began at a time when LMDC's lack of focus nearly led to the placement of the International Freedom Center on sacred ground. Now, to the detriment of future visitors to the memorial, it appears that money has followed LMDC's misplaced priorities as evidenced by the allocation of $50 million to an unrelated cultural facility. Millions have also been spent on the Snohetta building design and we still don't know what it will contain, if it is even built at all.
We would like to be able to say that the WTC Memorial Foundation should take over, but some changes need to be made first. The foundation has said that the memorial is the priority, but actions speak louder than words. Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, both members of the foundation's board, have yet to make a personal donation to the memorial.
It seems evident that the cultural facilities, not the memorial, are the true priority of some individuals who have been charged with building the memorial. The majority of Sept. 11 families are withholding donations until America gets a memorial design it deserves, one that preserves our national heritage, provides for the safety of visitors and honors the dead by telling their story without distraction.
We want a memorial that isn't crammed into a basement space, hidden from the light of day. We want public access to the physical remains of the twin tower footprints at bedrock.
The WTC Memorial Foundation must focus its attention on the Sept. 11 memorial. Board members whose priority is not the memorial must be replaced. As long as their focus remains on extraneous cultural matters they will continue to have difficulty raising funds.
LMDC, which must get its priorities straight, would benefit from new leadership. If changes aren't made fast in both the LMDC and the WTC Memorial Foundation, they will not only fail to honor those who died at that site on Sept. 11, 2001, but they will continue to fail us all.
Gardner and Reilly, who lost family members in the World Trade Center attack, are co-organizers of the Take Back the Memorial campaign.