New York, NY –
Today at the Javitz Center, the public gets to react to the six official proposals for redeveloping ground zero, released this week by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. WNYC's Brian Lehrer says if you re planning to go, here are eight questions you might want to ask, when it's your turn at the mike.
Question number one:
Almost everyone finds these designs disappointing. Why do you think that is? I realize you have a lot of demands on you to make the site all things to all people. Our loss was so great that our expectations may be foolishly high. But why do you think almost no one seems to find them inspiring?
Question number two:
Could the main reason be that business and political constraints forced the designers to stifle their imaginations? Most of us didn t know there were ground zero ground rules that couldn t be violated: We didn t know that all 11 million square feet of office space had to be replaced , and all 600-thousand square feet of hotel and retail space. With the open mall most of us want for a memorial, were those rules just too confining for a really great design?
Question number three:
Do those rules have to stand? Most of us know the Port Authority owns the Trade Center. But we didn t realize it signed a 99 year lease, in April of last year, that gave development rights to two private companies. I realize THEY want all the commercial space restored, but under the circumstances, can t you renegotiate?
Question number four:
Governor Pataki appointed the people who are leading this process. The New York Times reported this week that Westfield America, one of those leaseholders, funneled at least $100,000 to Mr. Pataki s re-election campaign. Could that have anything to do with this?
Question number five:
The city councilman for lower Manhattan, Alan Gerson, tells me there is already 12 million square feet of vacant office space in the downtown area, and that the city is subsidizing businesses to occupy some of it. Is that what we have to look forward to with these designs - a government-required office complex that the government will have to pay businesses to move to?
Which leads me to question number six: we all know there s a housing shortage in the city. Why wouldn t you rather subsidize affordable housing?
Question number seven:
I realize the Port Authority is in a tight spot. Without all that commercial space, it might lose a lot of revenue that allows it to build transportation and infrastructure projects we all depend on. But is that a higher public good than the best possible plan for ground zero? If you think so, please make your case.
And question number seven:
Ground Zero is in the shadow of Wall Street. Alan Greenspan admonished Wall Street this week for succumbing to infectious greed . Is greed also infecting this supposedly sacred process? Thank you for your time. I ll listen to your answers now.
Host, The Brian Lehrer Show
Brian Lehrer is host of The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC Radio's daily call-in program, covering politics and life, locally and globally. The show airs weekdays from 10am-noon on WNYC 93.9 FM, AM 820 and wnyc.org.