Letters to the editor

A better, cheaper memorial

To The Editor:

The centerpiece of rebuilding is the memorial. Rebuilding has failed. What’s the next sentence?

By all they did and said, Americans made it clear what they want, need and expect of the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center site and what they believe it is our duty to do: preserve and convey the history of Sept. 11. They have been led to believe the memorial will “remember and honor Sept. 11.”

It will not; it is not meant to. Trees and waterfalls will replace all the authentic artifacts of the W.T.C.

By happy coincidence, the right memorial will cost a fraction of this one, cost no more than any other park or plaza in New York to maintain (the proposed memorial would have astronomical costs per annum to maintain) and would be an economic bonanza for Downtown. And it can be built by the tenth anniversary, 9/11/11.

Few of the thousands of families that go to the W.T.C. site each year are aware that the current plan will construct a roof over bedrock and that they will not be permitted to step upon it. They are to descend a long ramp and deep underground, under artificial light, gaze from elevated walkways at bedrock.

Restore the authentic artifacts to where they stood on 9/11 — placed in an attractive park, at plaza level, easily accessible, where they can leave a flower by their loved ones’ engraved name under the open sky, with the reborn city rising about them, the families will without missing a beat gratefully assemble there.

 Put the museum nearby, in an attractive, comfortable building on the plaza, equally easily accessible, with the flyers and the crushed fire trucks overlooking the site.

This frees the underground space to be dedicated to infrastructure, train tracks, stations and garages. This makes the memorial and museum possible. It allows for all other rebuilding. It saves astronomical costs.

Preserve a box beam column at bedrock; come upon during a daily commute it would make an effective and haunting reminder of what once stood here. 

This is also very much the memorial and museum America thinks it is getting. To fix rebuilding, build it.

Michael Burke

Brother of F.D.N.Y. Captain William F. Burke, Jr., killed on Sept. 11, 2001

Build tall & affordable

To The Editor:

Re “City Planning gets an earful of East Side zoning fight” (news article, Aug. 15 – Aug. 21):

The Lower East Side rezoning plan will help preserve the built environment of the Lower East Side but will not preserve its social and economic diversity since it will not create or preserve a significant number of new affordable housing units or help small businesses. The city’s Inclusionary Zoning program is not well suited for the Lower East Side. The I.Z. program has only worked well along the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront where developers were able to build large highrise towers to generate additional profits to underwrite affordable housing. In addition, the city provided the developers access to a slew of government housing financing programs, tax breaks and use of city-owned land to make the I.Z. program work. A few blocks inland where the zoning density is lower and buildings are smaller, a tiny number of new affordable housing units have been built on privately owned land.

The city has not promised it will allow the use of the Seward Park urban renewal site or any other city-owned properties to be used for the creation of affordable housing. Developers of market rate housing are most likely to participate in this incentive program when the market is hot and the additional time and costs of using the I.Z. program enhance their bottom line. The height caps placed on the wide avenues and streets where the I.Z. program is expected to produce the bulk of affordable housing units actually serve as a disincentive to use the program. The chasm between the cost of building new units and affordable rents is too large to be made up by a few extra market rate units.

New affordable housing will only be built if the height caps are lifted on wide avenues, access to government-owned sites are included, including infill sites on New York City Housing Authority properties, and below market financing is provided. The city and state must make a substantial investment in this community and supporters of this zoning plan must comes to terms with the economics of building affordable housing in Manhattan and allow for taller buildings on blocks where they belong.

Robert Weber

Robert Weber was director of policy for Asian Americans for Equality and the project director of the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative