Wishes for 2004

At the beginning of 2003, there were nine possible master plans for the World Trade Center site, we weren’t sure where the memorial would be and the W.T.C. PATH commuter station was closed. The year saw significant progress on these three fronts and we hope to see more positive changes for 2004. Here are some of our other wishes for 2004:

• An adjusted W.T.C. memorial design will be chosen and it will pay fitting honor to those killed on 9/11, uniting all of the factions that are interested in the site.

• Ground is broken on a spectacular, permanent W.T.C. transit center designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Gov. George Pataki has said construction will begin in 2004 or early in 2005. No economic development project at the site is more important than the transit hub and the earlier it gets started, the better.

• A sensible plan to use the remaining 9/11 funds emerges to include vital transportation projects such as a link to the Long Island Rail Road and exclude projects that should be better spent with other capital funds — such as the renovation of South Ferry subway station.

• Pataki’s suggestion that his friend President Bush is likely to increase the amount of aid for Lower Manhattan proves correct. We will have much more confidence in such a pledge if Bush makes it and identifies and commits the funding source before his reelection bid in November.

• Consensus is reached on a plan to spend the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s remaining $1 billion in project funds. The plan should include among other things, money for the Hudson River Park, probably transportation projects and perhaps affordable housing. We are disappointed that the L.M.D.C. still has not released the results of its summer neighborhood workshops looking for suggestions to spend the money and we hope to see a report released quickly.

• No more projects using tax-free Liberty Bonds are approved for sites outside of Lower Manhattan and Congress and President Bush agree to extend the 2004 deadline to 2009. All residential projects using this money should either include buildings where at least 20 percent of the apartments are set aside for middle or low-income people or where the building meets another critical need, such as historical preservation.

• The city and state demonstrate their commitment to preserving affordable housing in Lower Manhattan by coming up with plans to preserve it at Independence Plaza in Tribeca and Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City.

• The Hudson River Park Trust, under its new leadership, comes up with a way to pay for the rest of the park, quickly comes up with a plan to follow the law and build 7.5 acres of park space at Pier 40, and rededicates itself to more transparent accounting and consulting with the community more closely on its plans.

• Most of the smaller L.M.D.C. park projects are completed by the spring, making Downtown into a greener place, and a plan emerges to develop better open space on Downtown’s “other waterfront” on the East River.

• The city gives Tribeca neighbors good reason to drop their expected lawsuit against the city regarding the dangerous and illegal amount of diesel fuel stored at 60 Hudson St.

• The Environmental Protection Agency gives Downtowners reason to be assured about the results of the W.T.C. toxic chemical tests in apartments by improving its education and outreach efforts, and when necessary, conducts tests or retests in people’s homes.

• Commitments are made and acted upon by the relevant authorities to build a primary and middle school in Lower Manhattan to meet the extraordinary demographic growth of New York’s fastest growing residential area.

We have many other hopes for the New Year, but most of all we wish you a safe, happy and prosperous 2004. Please note that the Downtown Express will be published every Friday starting next week, as opposed to Tuesday.

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