Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Memorial First

Today's New York Daily News had an excellent editorial on the World Trade Center Memorial, and how it should be the first priority there. Here it is in its entirety.

Put the WTC Memorial First

The families of several 9/11 victims have written to Port Authority chief Chris Ward asking that the World Trade Center memorial be ready and open by Sept. 11, 2011. It's a request that is more than reasonable, and Ward, who is rejiggering the timetables of all the Ground Zero pieces, should make it happen.

The memorial to the 2,981 people murdered downtown, at the Pentagon, aboard Flight 93 and in the 1993 WTC bombing is the most important component of the new trade center. The other elements, the skyscrapers and the vastly overlavish PATH hub, are secondary.

After scrapping the PA's meaningless promises of deadlines at the direction of Gov. Paterson, Ward is spending the summer evaluating every aspect of the rebuilding.

He has already said that none of the previous target dates or costs will be met. The worst case is the PATH hub. A perfectly serviceable station, which the PA built for a quarter-billion bucks, is to be replaced by a virtual cathedral - 50% bigger than Grand Central. Budgeted at $2.2 billion, it has already gone $1 billion above that and is running years behind schedule. Because the memorial sits above part of PATH, the later the PATH station, the later the memorial.

The families are right. The centerpiece of Ground Zero is, and should be, the memorial. Half the 16-acre site is devoted to what is basically a broad park surrounding two huge squares where the towers stood.

In place of the 110-story buildings will be water-filled voids fed by waterfalls on all four sides. Around the rims will be the names of the fallen.

Ward says that though it will be "very difficult," he thinks most of the memorial can be in place by the 10th anniversary. Sounds good. But only if he's not envisioning just a one-day ceremonial arrangement open for 9/11/11 and taken down 9/12/11.

The full memorial must be complete in all its aspects.

How? By making the PATH station simpler and cheaper.

While PATH is used by 67,000 daily commuters, no one will be going to the new WTC to see a train station.

They - 5 million to 7 million visitors per year - will be going there to remember what happened one dreadful September morning. And to pay respects to those who died and honor those who tried to save the doomed.


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