George E. Pataki, promising "a renewed sense of urgency" in the
rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, laid out a plan yesterday to complete
substantial portions of the work at the World Trade Center site by the fifth
anniversary of the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
By that time, Mr. Pataki said, the permanent
PATH commuter station at the site and the new Fulton Transit Center two blocks
to the east will open, the substructure for the memorial to the victims of
the attack will be completed, allowing construction of the memorial to proceed,
and the erection of steel for the 1,776-foot tower, a signature piece of Daniel
Libeskind's design for the site, will be finished.
Mr. Pataki also promised $50 million in
improvements to make it easier to get around downtown, and he vowed to make the
governor's New York City office the first tenant in the new skyscraper, which he
called the "Freedom Tower."
In laying out plans for making Lower Manhattan
whole again, Mr. Pataki was responding to intense criticism over the past month
from downtown business leaders, who have complained about the lack of noticeable
progress in rebuilding.
Some of the governor's programs went little
beyond the cosmetic: for example, replacing the black shroud that hangs over the
building, at the southern edge of the trade center site, with a mural depicting
the new tower.
Others, like improvements to open spaces, were
first proposed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in December when he laid out his
vision for Lower Manhattan, something that Mr. Pataki acknowledged.
But the governor's address — which he worked on
all day Wednesday and which his staff reworked until the wee hours yesterday —
also took the strategic step of drawing together into a coherent picture the
myriad programs already under way or planned.
Many of those projects — like efforts to
rebuild and improve the transportation systems downtown — were probably
familiar to people who have been closely following the numerous federal, state
and local agencies that have a hand in the rebuilding effort. But they have
rarely if ever been assembled in a single vision.
Most of the 300 business and civic leaders who
attended the luncheon, which was given by the Association for a Better New York
at the Ritz-Carlton hotel near Battery Park, seemed pleased by the governor's
Among them was Thomas A. Renyi, the chairman and
chief executive of the
Bank of New York
, who last month was a co-author of a stinging memorandum to members of the New
York City Partnership, a business advocacy group, that spoke of a "lack of
clarity and the perceived loss of momentum" in the rebuilding.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Renyi said that
Mr. Pataki had "addressed all our concerns and more."
Mr. Bloomberg, who has been at odds with Mr.
Pataki recently over budgetary matters, praised the governor's effort to use $50
million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for the short-term
improvements in Lower Manhattan.
"We have to do that as quickly as we
possibly can," Mr. Bloomberg said. "Building a 1,700-foot building is
a long-term project, but there are lots of people who live and work in Lower
Manhattan, and we want to make a better environment for them right now."
Among the short-term projects were a new enclosed
bridge over West Street, a covered walkway at Liberty and Church Streets that
will better link the World Financial Center with the areas east of the trade
center site, and a permanent and more pleasing solution to the security needs of
the New York Stock Exchange than the maze of barriers along Wall and Broad
The former greenmarket at the World Trade Center
will reopen this summer in Liberty Park Plaza, on Broadway at Liberty Street,
and $3 million will go toward the new Millennium High School, a public school
that will open downtown in December. An additional $10 million is slated for
other open spaces and parks in Lower Manhattan, projects also called for by the
mayor in December.
Mr. Pataki also said the development corporation
would start an effort in June to get arts institutions to move to the new
cultural buildings that will be built at ground zero.
For the longer term, Mr. Pataki announced that
new, fast ferry service to the city's airports would begin soon, to La Guardia
Airport in late 2004 and to Kennedy International Airport a year later. And he
promised a decision within one year on how Lower Manhattan will connect by rail
to Kennedy Airport: by a new tunnel under the East River or using existing
tunnels and tracks.
The governor also gave the first completion dates
for other projects: the permanent PATH station, to open in late 2006; the Fulton
Transit Center, to open in 2007; and the underground pedestrian tunnels
connecting the two stations and the World Financial Center, to open in 2009.
Mr. Pataki also promised that the new tower at
the site would be completed around the beginning of 2008. It will be built, he
said, by Larry A. Silverstein, the developer who holds the lease to office space
at the site and who has already committed to rebuilding 7 World Trade Center
Mr. Pataki's vow to move the governor's office to
the tower drew applause and some chuckles, particularly from people who realized
that his current term ends in 2006. Asked later whether the promise meant that
he would seek a fourth term, Mr. Pataki said, "I rule nothing in, I rule