Governor places Calatrava station ahead of W.T.C. towers

By Julie Shapiro

Gov. David Paterson laid out his priorities for ground zero the day after the seventh anniversary of the attacks, and he broke with the city and some community leaders in the order of his list.

Paterson placed the World Trade Center PATH hub designed by Santiago Calatrava above the Freedom Tower and Silverstein Properties office buildings. That’s the reverse of the priorities Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber identified to Downtown Express two months ago and repeated last week.

“Lower Manhattan is a serious hub of transportation, which if developed correctly can again accommodate [people’s] needs,” Paterson said Friday during a speech to the New York Building Congress. “There will be more of us and more places to go.”

Like Lieber and nearly everyone else involved in the rebuilding effort, Paterson placed the memorial at the top of his list.

“It’s priority and having a plan,” Paterson said, describing how the site will get rebuilt. “It’s following the steps of the plan, and if there are obstacles, being honest about it, and being honest with the public.”

Paterson took a step toward that honesty when he asked the Port Authority for a realistic set of ground zero budgets and timetables earlier this summer. The Port will have answers for Paterson and the public by the end of the month.

After his speech Friday, Paterson gave his first direct response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s request that the governor shutter the city-state Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Bloomberg wanted to transfer the L.M.D.C.’s rebuilding functions to the city, and he particularly wanted to relieve the L.M.D.C. of its responsibility for the long-delayed demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.

“I do understand the perspective of how we could close down the L.M.D.C. and also in a sense how we would get the Deutsche Bank building down as soon as possible,” Paterson said.

However, since the L.M.D.C. receives federal funding, the city-state agency will have to remain in existence at least on paper, Paterson said. Bloomberg acknowledged as much in his essay in The Wall Street Journal, where his comments on the L.M.D.C. first appeared.

“Legally, I don’t think the state can disband the L.M.D.C., but at our next biweekly meeting I’m going to ask Mayor Bloomberg to come in and show us how that would be possible,” Paterson said. “Also, the way the L.M.D.C. works, there are resources becoming available that we’d have to give up to shut the L.M.D.C. down. And so we don’t think that’s an immediate decision that we’d like to make.”

Paterson said that while he and Bloomberg may not be in agreement about the L.M.D.C., he is glad to hear new ideas and see more energy focused on ground zero rebuilding.

“To me, that’s a change from what must have been going on in last seven years,” Paterson said.

He also said that while meeting with the mayor this summer, they discussed how “mutually agitated” they were that the memorial was behind schedule.

Bloomberg isn’t the first person to suggest closing the L.M.D.C. — former Gov. George Pataki wanted to dismantle the agency before he left office in 2006, but he failed to do so.

Paterson joked that he has spent much of his first six months as governor listening to people tell him that he should achieve the things New York’s past governors failed to do.

“Everyone says to me, ‘Gov. Pataki said he was going to do this and Gov. Spitzer said he was going to do that, therefore you have to do it,’” Paterson said.

“No,” he concluded, drawing a laugh from the crowd of construction professionals, “that’s not true.”