Still no final plans for tenth anniversary, tour bus parking


BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Manhattan Youth’s Community Center on Warren Street was packed on February 23 for a town-hall meeting convened by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer to discuss developments at the World Trade Center site and plans for the future.

The most pointed questions of the evening were directed at Luis Sanchez, Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation and at Avi Schick, Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

An estimated five million visitors a year are expected to arrive in Lower Manhattan after the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opens on September 11, 2011, but with 200 days to go, Sanchez said that plans had not yet been finalized as to how these visitors would get to Lower Manhattan and where tour buses would park.

In order to accommodate the influx of visitors on what will remain a construction site for years to come, timed passes will be issued by the September 11 Museum. Carriers that drop their passengers off site, possibly in New Jersey to be ferried across the Hudson River, will get preference on tickets, Sanchez said. However, he continued, some buses will inevitably have to drive to Lower Manhattan to deliver school groups and the disabled to the site. He also said that tour bus operators were not obliged to sign up for the ticketing system.

Eventually, the Vehicle Security Center, which is behind schedule because of demolition delays at 130 Liberty Street, will be able to house some of the buses, but that facility won’t be available until 2013. Sanchez said that the Battery Park Garage was not an option for bus layovers.

The New York City D.O.T. has identified an area bounded by Warren Street, Broadway, Battery Place and Battery Park City’s North and South End Avenues that the buses could traverse, much to the dismay of residents, who fear traffic congestion, noise and fumes.

Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin said that the community had not been party to making these plans and that she found this “troubling.”

Sanchez said that the D.O.T. hadn’t ruled anything in or out, and was trying to identify locations that would “minimize the impact.”

“When will we see site-specific plans?” Stringer wanted to know.

Sanchez said that they should be available in the next month and a half or so.

Also on the hot seat at the meeting, Avi Schick of the L.M.D.C. responded to a question from Community Board 1 Vice Chair Catherine McVay Hughes about when the L.M.D.C. would allocate $17 million that it has said will go to cultural institutions in Lower Manhattan.

Schick replied that the L.M.D.C. had received several hundred responses to the announcement that the money was available — “far in excess of what we had ever previously received.” Schick said that the requests totaled $200 million and “we want the money to go to the best and highest use.”

The panel at the forum included Christopher O. Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Joseph C. Daniels, President and C.E.O. of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum; Malcolm Williams, Assistant Construction Manager for Silverstein Properties; and Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York.

U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler and New York State Senator Daniel Squadron were also present for part of the meeting.

Ward had some good news for the audience. “One World Trade Center is at 58 floors and counting,” he said. “We’re averaging one floor in just a little over a week. We should be at the 80th or 90th floor by the 10th anniversary.”