C.B. 1 asks L.M.D.C. for more transparency on 130 Liberty

BY John Bayles

At last week’s full Community Board 1 meeting, the board once again passed a resolution calling on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to keep the lines of communication open. The resolution specifically targeted the current demolition of the old Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty Street.

“It’s been some time since the community board’s WTC Redevelopment Committee has created a resolution on 130 Liberty,” said committee chair Catherine McVay Hughes. “The last time was right before the demolition process started. It became apparent that we needed to make sure the process moving forward was as clear and transparent as possible.”

The impetus for the resolution stemmed from a recent article in the New York Post that said the project would be delayed due to a “cracked crane.” Spokesperson for the L.M.D.C. Errol Cockfield said it was not a “cracked crane” however. Instead it was an iron “collar” that was connecting the crane to the building’s fifth floor.

A stop work order was issued by the Department of Buildings in July and was lifted a mere 24 hours later after the collar issue was corrected.

“The stop work order came as a result of the L.M.D.C. asking for an independent assessment of the crane,” said Cockfield. “We want to be as safe as possible. Fortunately this issue was discovered and we were able to correct it.”

Nonetheless, Hughes and many other board members felt they should have known first about the crane and second about the stop work order. And they felt like the news should’ve come from the L.M.D.C. and not a newspaper.

“Why did the community [not know],” said Hughes. “If there is a World Trade Center committee and if there are L.M.D.C. meetings – why wasn’t that information provided? Why do we have to ask? Why do we have to find out at the last minute that there was a slow down and a work stoppage?”

Hughes said the L.M.D.C. has a standing invitation to attend all of the WTC Redevelopment committee meetings.

“If one person can’t make it, then they should send someone else,” said Hughes.

The most recent meeting was held in early July and no one from the L.M.D.C. attended.

“Unfortunately an L.M.D.C. representative could not attend because of a summer scheduling conflict. But the L.M.D.C. has made every effort to attend the overwhelming majority of the committee’s meeting,” said Cockfield.

The Post story said the crane situation would result in a two-month delay, pushing the project’s completion date into February 2011. Currently, the building is scheduled to be fully demolished by the end of the year. Cockfield said the Post story was inaccurate and the only delay that occurred was during the stop-work order when the crane issue was addressed and fixed.

Hughes though stressed the importance of transparency during the final stages of the project, in part because work on the Vehicle Security Center, which will be constructed below a portion of the 130 Liberty site, cannot begin until the demolition is complete. Per a contract, the property is to be transferred to the Port Authority, the agency who will oversee the construction of the V.S.C., also before the end of the year.

“The Vehicle Security Center is the lynchpin to servicing the rest of the WTC site,” said Hughes. “When you’re building the center, where will the staging ground be located? These are tough engineering questions people need to be thinking about right now.”

Hughes hopes the deadline for the demolition and the transfer to the Port will be met.

“Will they have it down as per the contract and delivered… I would like to be optimistic. I would like to believe it could be safely demolished and transferred to the Port at the end of the year. But there have been so many missed deadlines,” she said.

Cockfield would not comment on the transfer of the property. He did however attempt to quell Hughes’ fears.

“We expect 130 Liberty Street to be fully deconstructed by the end of the year. Once the building is down, the property will be accessible for any work related to the Vehicle Security Center.”