Letters, Week of Nov. 14, 2012

Move 9/11 artifacts to higher ground

To the Editor:
For years, in meeting after meeting after meeting with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, I and other 9/11 family members told president and later Chairman Kevin Rampe, L.M.D.C. officials and its engineers and architects not to put the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum at bedrock level. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, I argued, than putting it on plaza level where, you know, common sense dictated it to go.

All I got in response was blank looks, weary sighs and rolled eyes. What New York and America got was a museum whose costs shot up by over a billion dollars. The current project is so expensive that construction came to a halt in recent months as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the 9/11 Memorial Foundation battled over taxpayer money.

The museum’s opening had already been delayed by years — adding ever more costs and lost revenue to the project.

And then we got hit by Hurricane Sandy — or Superstorm Sandy — and guess what happened to the museum that was built 70 feet below sea level just steps away from the Hudson River and New York Harbor?

Every circumstance cannot be foreseen, but there was no reason for any of those objects to be at bedrock. None but the ‘Last Beam’ was ever there. They were only put there for the blatantly ridiculous purpose of ensuring that nothing remained on the plaza that would remind visitors of the 2001 terrorist attacks. In 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels’ words, there was a need to “preserve the integrity” of the memorial to 9/11.

So, we have inanity following absurdity.

The Memorial complex’s final cost will be well over 2 billion — maybe over 3 billion, who knows? And it will cost at least $60 million annually to maintain.

A genuine, humble memorial and plaza would have cost a fraction of that. Imagine what else we might have spent that $2 billion-plus on. Say, emergency response? How about sea walls?

And here’s a lesson in humility that we can be sure will have zero impact: Down at Battery Park, the indomitable Fritz Koenig Sphere, which our Memorial officials all ignore, shrugged off the storm without a cent spent on it. And unlike our billion-dollar memorial, it is still “open” and people may visit it at any time without having to schedule an appointment or wait on line. And there is no need to remind people that “this is a sacred and historic space,” because it carries that inherently in its scars and dents.

And of course, there is no accountability for any of this — there never is. It is like the final line from the 1974 film “Chinatown”: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Massive cost overruns? Artifacts unnecessarily destroyed by floods? Endless delays? Billion-dollar 9/11 World Trade Center memorials that don’t acknowledge 9/11? Two more firemen die in the Deutsche Bank fire? Forget it, folks, it’s Ground Zero.
Michael Burke

Ban the trucks!

To the Editor:
Re. “Police Blotter, Week of Nov. 7:

Trucks are obviously more dangerous than guns. The Army National Guard should not be permitted to drive trucks.
Sidney Baumgarten

Wow, devastation

To the Editor:
Wow. The local CBS news station filmed the restaurants on Stone and Pearl Streets in the South Street Seaport. Peter Poulakakos was interviewed — his businesses have a fraction of the customers. Some of the Seaport shops will not open for years. Also, Bellevue Hospital won’t fully reopen for months. It’s like post-Katrina on Long Island and Staten Island.
Steve Geller, The Healthcare Channel

Trees? What about us?

To The Editor:
In today’s New York Times, I can read about storm damage to trees in Queens, the fate of a Cuban restaurant on the Upper West Side and dog bordellos in Brazil.

But I can learn nothing about the availability of emergency medical care in Manhattan! There isn’t a word about where I should go for emergency care if I were to need it and what hospitals are available to Manhattan residents below 42nd Street. Where does a seriously ill person in Tribeca, Greenwich Village or the Lower East Side ask a cab to take them?

What are the waiting times in the open emergency rooms? This is lifesaving information that needs to be told to the public!

I can walk into the 14th Street station of the Seventh Avenue subway and learn the waiting time for the next Uptown No. 3 train, but the press and the city don’t see fit to tell me where to go for the quickest emergency medical care!
Elizabeth Ryan