Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 88

Groundbreaking on the new Fiterman Hall took place yesterday, but it was not without a bit of controversy sparked by none other than the irritable and despicable New York City Councilman Charles Barron, who took offense with not being on the dais for the ceremony and got into a shouting match with a CUNY Trustee.
Barron accused Mayor Bloomberg and others of "disrespecting" him and the students who had fought for a new building.

"The mayor gets up here and doesn't even respect us enough to even mention that students were even involved in it at all," Barron said during the groundbreaking for Fiterman Hall at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

At that point, CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld rose from his front-row seat and said, "When was the last time you respected somebody? You're a disgrace!"

"You be quiet. No one's talking to you," shot back Barron, chairman of the council's Higher Education Committee, as a couple of hundred invited guests looked on in wonderment. "You're a sickening racist, so you can go to hell!"

When Wiesenfeld told Barron to await his turn to speak, the councilman retorted: "Whether you like it or not, I'm here and I'm not going nowhere."
The exchange is here:

Even as the groundbreaking was underway, Steve Cuozzo reminds everyone that Fiterman Hall could have been refurbished and rebuilt following the damage sustained in the 9/11 attacks. The years of delays in securing financing led to the very problems alleged - mold infestations that proved too much to clean:
So after it was damaged on 9/11, CUNY held out for a whole new building. The original very likely could have been fixed -- but, as then-Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff told us in 2004, "They don't think it's the ideal building for their purposes."

If it was truly beyond repair, CUNY never proved it. Although it had $120 million in insurance funds for repairs, it wanted $56 million more from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to knock it down and start over -- holding the eyesore hostage for years as it cast a pall on the doorstep of the new 7 World Trade Center.

The Fiterman fiasco bounced back and forth among CUNY, three governors and City Hall. When the LMDC finally agreed to put in more dough, CUNY designed a fancier building and demanded even more money. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver squeezed a reluctant Mayor Bloomberg to pump $70 million into a bloated $259 million tab.

By the time CUNY got everything it wanted, Fiterman Hall had finally turned as toxic as the school first claimed -- further delaying demolition.
Meanwhile, a look around Ground Zero would reveal a hive of construction on multiple projects. There are at least nine heavy lift cranes operating around the site - four alone at the Freedom Tower, including two tower cranes. Two other tower cranes are operating at Ground Zero, not counting the tower crane for the ongoing demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building, which appears to have had it's current top floor demolished by the look of the scaffolding slowly coming down.

Steel continues rising on the Freedom Tower (1WTC), and the steel crosswork and angular form of the lower floors of the tower are starting to come into focus.

At the same time, construction is underway throughout the temporary PATH station, including new stair access to the subway platforms and overlaying and interlacing the Calatrava design on top of the existing structures. It strikes me as a tremendous waste of money to see so much of the temporary station demolished; it was built with five tracks and three platforms, but two of the tracks are now fully out of commission and one platform is out of service. Was it necessary to build that additional capacity in the temporary station when the final design would require their demolition? It would have made more sense to pare down the temporary station so that construction could proceed, saving everyone money in the process.

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