February 24th - March 2nd, 2006
New Security Technology, Armed Guards for WTC Complex
Saturday, February 25: New security technology, including iris scans and thumb print analysis, may be used on visitors to the new World Trade Center site, the Associated Press reported. The plan to make the site as terrorism-proof as possible places armed guards on patrol, air sensors inside and outside of buildings to test for lethal gases, and smart cameras with the ability to match faces to a database of known terrorists, the paper continued.
James Kallstrom, former FBI agent and Governor George Pataki's senior counterterrorism advisor, told the AP, "This'll be reflective of the times we live in. The consequences of attacking here could have more significance to the terrorists. It has a lot of symbolism. It's going to be extremely well protected." Kallstrom is working toward maintaining higher security standards than are normal for public spaces around the country, the AP reported. John McCarthy, a spokesman for the Port Authority, indicated that the agency would likely follow Kallstrom's recommendations, the newswire added.
African Burial Ground a National Monument
Tuesday, February 28: Part of the African Burial Ground discovered in Lower Manhattan in 1991 was named a National Monument by President George W. Bush, the Associated Press reported. The burial ground is believed to have been closed in 1794, and since then it had been covered with more than 20 feet of construction landfill. It was rediscovered in Lower Manhattan as part of excavation for the construction of a federal office tower near City Hall, the AP continued.
The monument status places the land under the control of the National Park Service, which is less than half an acre of the full 7 acre site where around 20,000 slaves and free blacks were buried, the AP reported. The Park service plans to build a granite monument on the site that was designed by architect Rodney Leon, the Daily News reported. The monument will allow "visitors to better understand and honor the culture and vital contributions of generations of Africans and Americans of African descent to our Nation," quoted Bush in the AP.
9/11 Health Program Underway
Tuesday, February 28: John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the agency responsible for preventing work-related injuries and illness, was appointed as the 9/11 health coordinator by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, Newsday reported.
The program Howard is to oversea aims to monitor 10,000 federal workers who worked at Ground Zero, the Daily News added. After an initial start in June 2003, the program was stopped after only 394 people were examined in six months, but it is now back up and running. To date, 1,700 additional workers have been identified to participate, the paper continued.
The New York City Council plans to reject the latest cleanup proposal from the federal government aimed at cleaning the dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center from downtown apartments, calling it "technically and scientifically flawed," the New York Times reported. "We will never successfully rebuild Lower Manhattan until we can all be assured that we have successfully cleaned up Lower Manhattan," Councilman Alan Jay Gerson, chairman of the committee on Lower Manhattan redevelopment, told the Times.
Schumer Proposes Compromise, Increases Pressure on Silverstein
Tuesday, February 28: New York Senator Charles Schumer proposed that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should agree to move into the Freedom Tower, and in exchange, Silverstein Properties should reduce its developer's fee by half, agree to regular examination by an independent auditor, and begin construction on all four ground zero building sites within 60 days of their being ready, the New York Sun reported.
Schumer also thinks that Mayor Michael Bloomberg should commit more than $1.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds to the project and told business leaders, "To make downtown happen, to make ground zero grow again, everyone has to give," the AP reported.
Silverstein told the New York Times that he supports Schumer's proposal that he receive the remaining Liberty Bonds and the Port Authority anchor the Freedom Tower.
In response to Schumer's proposal, Bloomberg responded at a City Hall news conference, "We're not going to put Liberty Bonds into something that would, two or three years from now, come to a grinding halt," the Times reported. "I think the time to address this issue is before construction starts, right now, not when you're halfway done," he continued. Silverstein, the City of New York, and the Port Authority are expected to make a deal by the March 14 deadline instituted by Governor George Pataki, the Sun added.
Third Wall Found During South Ferry Subway Terminal Digging
Wednesday, March 1: Workers digging as part of the construction effort for the South Ferry subway terminal came across a third historical wall, about 105 feet long and nine feet thick, believed to have been a seawall intended to either protect against a naval attack or hold in landfill that extended the shoreline, the New York Times reported. This wall, unlike the previous two recently discovered, has barnacles and oyster shells stuck to it, leading Adrian Benepe, New York CityParks and Recreation Department commissioner, to conclude that it had been exposed to the ocean, according to the Times.
"These walls are essentially the oldest masonry in Manhattan," Benepe told the Times. The question of what to do with the walls that have been discovered has met with three different answers: The first wall will be reassembled in Battery Park, part of the second wall will be imbedded in a glass wall inside the new South Ferry terminal, and stones from the third wall will be spread to other parks in Lower Manhattan, the paper continued.
Some historical archeologists, like Nan Rothschild who teaches at Barnard College, would prefer that the entire wall be preserved, rather having portions removed during the South Ferry terminal construction. "A piece of a wall I don't think has much integrity," Rothschild told the Times, "It is just a wall. But it's exciting when you see it. What it speaks to, to me, is the way the space in Lower Manhattan has been manipulated and how it's developed. The city keeps being rebuilt."
No announcements have yet been made about whether discovery of the walls will delay the project's scheduled 2007 completion date. Mysore Nagaraja, the president of the MTA Capital Construction Company, told the Times that the additional work and delays would cost less than $1 million.