February 3rd - February 9th, 2006
Donate to WTC Memorial While Filing Taxes
Friday, February 3: Making a donation to support construction of the World Trade Center Memorial has become easier than ever thanks to a new tax check-off box on New York State income tax returns. To help promote the check-off option, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation joined forces Friday with H&R Block to help kick off the tax season. For more on this story, click here.
Personal Items Returned to 9/11 Victims Families
Friday, February 3: Of the roughly 135,000 personal items recovered from ground zero, only 21,600 remain in police possession, the AP reported. Of the items recovered, 1,779 were pieces of jewelry, 1,349 of which have been returned. The police expect to give back almost 400 more items to family members in the future, the AP continued.
Jay Winuk, who lost his brother Glen when the towers collapsed, had Glen's watch returned to him four years after the tragedy, the AP added. "It's really important," Winuk told the AP. "To be able to connect with something my brother was wearing that day is hard to describe.... It closes the loop in some way."
For more information on property recovery, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/.
Judges Rule For and Against EPA Chief in Ground Zero Suits
Thursday, February 3: Judge Deborah Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman is not immune from a class-action suit brought against her and the EPA by residents, students, and workers who claim that they were exposed to airborne hazardous materials near the World Trade Center, the New York Times reported.
Batts was quoted in the Times as saying, "The allegations in this case of Whitman's reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are without question conscience-shocking." Whitman rejected the ruling, calling it "completely inaccurate," the paper reported.
In a press released issued as early as September 13, 2001, the EPA declared that the air near ground zero contained "no significant levels" of asbestos and that it was relatively safe for residents to return to their homes, the Times continued. In her ruling, Batts wrote that Whitman's actions "increased, and may have in fact created, the danger" to people living and working near the trade center, according to the Times. Batts added that Whitman's position as a public official did not entitle her to immunity, the paper added.
Meanwhile, also this week, another judge in the same courthouse, Judge Alvin Hellerstein, ruled the opposite in a similar case, deciding that Whitman should be immune to the charges, the paper added. In so doing, he accepted many of the same arguments Batts had rejected.
The plaintiffs in the case decided by Hellerstein are expected to appeal, and Whitman said the Justice Department was also planning to appeal on her behalf, according to the Times.
WTC Museum Director Named
Wednesday, February 8: The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and Lower Manhattan Development Agency (LMDC) named Alice Greenwald director of the memorial and museum to be built at the WTC site, the New York Times reported. The appointment of Greenwald, who was formerly an associate director for museum programs at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., has garnered a positive reaction from 9/11 victims' family members, the paper continued.
Discussing family members' input in the museum, Greenwald told the Times; "They have to have a privileged voice in the process. By the same token, you have to create a narrative that allows your visitor to come in and understand what happened. It's a partnership."
Monica Iken, who lost her husband on 9/11, told the Times that Ms. Greenwald "has done an exemplary job at the Holocaust Museum."
The Memorial Foundation has raised $100 million of the $500 million needed to build the memorial and museum, which will feature 65,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Times continued. An additional $200 million will be transferred to the Memorial Foundation from the LMDC, the paper added.
Additional LMDC Funds Will Revitalize Six Parks
Thursday, February 9: The vacant triangular lot bounded by Canal, Varick, and Laight Streets will be revived with canopy trees, flower beds, and benches thanks to funding authorized by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC)'s board of directors at its monthly board meeting.
Board members approved the allocation of $19.5 million to enhance six parks and public spaces in Lower Manhattan. In total, the LMDC has designated more than $120 million toward creating or revitalizing 135-plus acres in the area, with another $150 million earmarked for improvements along the East River waterfront. To learn more, click here.