April 27th - May 1st, 2009
City Seeks New Bus Layover Location
April 27 – The City agreed to withdraw its plans to move 18 commuter buses to West Street. The Downtown Express and Battery Park Broadsheet are reporting that City DOT will work with the community to find another location for the buses, which currently park on South Street. The buses are being moved because of construction on the East River Waterfront esplanade. One possible site is Battery Place, north of Battery Park; another could be West Street, north of Canal Street. Another possibility is the parking garage above the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel; however LMDC says it would need funding to buy and convert the garage for buses.
Air Force One Flyover Sparks Scare
April 27- The President’s modified jumbo jet and two F-16 fighter jets flew over Lower Manhattan without warning around 10 am, only 1,000 feet above Ground Zero. The jets were sent on an aerial photo mission according to the White House Military Office, which immediately apologized for not notifying the City. The spokesman said the mission was to take pictures of Air Force One flying over the Statue of Liberty. He added President Obama was furious. The FAA said it notified the NYPD, but also gave clear instructions not to share the mission with the public and threatened sanctions if the secret mission got out. Mayor Bloomberg denounced the flyover and said he was never told by NYPD that this was happening. “I’m annoyed- furious is a better word- that I wasn’t told. If I had known about it, I would have called them right away and asked them not to do it.” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said he would never follow such an order again. Thousands of residents and workers in Lower Manhattan and New Jersey ran into the streets, terrified that another attack was underway. President Obama has now ordered an internal review.
Negotiations Produce Small Savings
April 30 – The New York Times is reporting that the talks between labor leaders and contractors on ways to reduce construction costs have produced only small savings. The agreement is now said to save between 16 and 21 percent, but construction companies predict the savings will be in the single digits. Developers are eager to keep their projects moving and unions want to keep their members employed, but the report says there are other problems playing a role in the agreement including frozen real estate financing, a glut of new apartments and the high cost of land. The story adds the agreement will include concessions from the unions, standardized safety rules, and a no-strike pledge through June of 2010.
CB1 Asks LMDC to Revamp Program
April 30 – Community Board 1 is calling on the LMDC to revamp its Small Firm Assistance Program because businesses, affected by construction, are being forced to close their doors because the money is not being handed out quickly enough. The Battery Park Broadsheet is reporting CB 1 and Councilman Alan Gerson want the LMDC to streamline the application process, which now takes about two months. They also want LMDC to add more blocks to the program so more businesses will qualify.
VSC Construction Underway
April 30 – Construction of the Vehicle Security Center (VSC) at the WTC is underway. A 25 ton cage of steel reinforcing bars was lowered 60 feet into the ground, according to The New York Times City Room blog. That cage forms the core of the first of 28 slurry panels. The story says slurry walls have to be constructed to isolate the excavation area in the south bathtub. About 200,000 cubic yards of soil have to be removed. The VSC is expected to open in early 2012.
Ground Zero Tree Survives
April 30 – One of the trees that survived the 9-11 attacks will return to the WTC site in about two years. It’s a pear tree which had its crown blown off and its branches reduced to stumps. A story in The New York Times says no one thought it would survive when it was replanted in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx in November of 2001, but the tree made a remarkable recovery. The nursery manager at the Park said the tree has grown about 20 feet in the past 7 years and is now being called ‘the survivor tree’.
FEMA Coloring Book Sparks Uproar
April 30 – FEMA has removed a coloring book from its website after an uproar over a picture the 9-11 attack at the WTC. FEMA said the picture was inappropriate for young children. The coloring book shows several disasters, including plane crashes and floods.
Reade Street Building Collapses
April 30 – A façade of a five story building at 71 Reade Street, which was under renovation, suddenly collapsed around 6:15 am Thursday morning. The debris rained down on the sidewalk and several cars, burying them. The building was vacant; a bystander and two firefighters suffered minor injuries. The building was put up in 1856 and was landmarked. It had at least 10 violations issued by the Department of Buildings. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the collapse. The owner of the building had plans to turn it into a boutique hotel. Since it shared a back wall with 89 Chambers Street, that building is also being demolished now.
Squadron Proposes Fingerprinting Illegal Vendors
May 1 – State Senator Daniel Squadron wants to fingerprint street vendors who break the law, according to The Downtown Express. Squadron says with fingerprinting, the city would be able to keep records of repeat offenders. The paper says judges usually slap vendors with community service or fines and the vendors are back on the street in a few days. Squadron says illegal vendors block sidewalks, cause congestion, divert traffic from local businesses and make it difficult for legal vendors to walk.
Largest Foreign Donation Received
May 1 – The September 11 Memorial and Museum is getting a $1 million gift from the Starr International Foundation in Sweden. The donation is the largest so far from outside the United States, according to a story in Newsday. So far, more than $350 million has been raised to build the memorial.