Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 96

There's going to be a rally out in front of 7WTC at noon today to protest the ongoing stalemate between Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority over the construction of 2 and 3 WTC. Union workers who would stand to benefit from the construction of those two towers, the building of which is now in doubt because no one appears willing to fund this.

The two towers were part of the current master plan and are shovel ready projects in every sense of the word, so why is no stimulus funds from the ARRA of 2009 available to make this happen? It would clearly be a project tailor made to benefit from federal funds (or at least low interest financing) so that the project can build out Ground Zero without dooming the site to decades of construction, which now appears to be the case.

There has been some movement on the negotiations between Silverstein and the PANY, but no decision has been reached (the deadline is March 11).

At the same time, there's new acrimony between the Port Authority and the FDNY following an accident yesterday at the Freedom Tower. A construction worker fell 14 feet between two stories of the Freedom Tower and FDNY personnel who arrived were thwarted from rendering assistance.
Jose Jerez, 28, was working on a doorway 100 feet above street level when he plummeted about 14 feet, landing on a plywood floor inside the skyscraper-to-be, Port Authority officials said.

The Port Authority, which owns and has sole jurisdiction over the former World Trade Center site, dispatched its own police and emergency responders, who reached Jerez "within a minute or two" of his fall, said spokesman Steve Coleman.

The first FDNY unit to reach Ground Zero, Engine 10, arrived at the site's northern end, along Vesey St., but was not permitted entry by the Port Authority, FDNY sources said.

A short time later, six members of the FDNY's Squad 18 unit arrived at the western edge of Ground Zero and were allowed to assist in removing Jerez from the site, the FDNY sources said.

Port Authority rescuers lifted Jerez out from inside the building in a wire basket and used a hoist to lower him to the ground. An FDNY ambulance took him to Bellevue Hospital, where he was initially listed in serious condition, FDNY sources said.

While the rescue was unfolding, several additional FDNY units joined Engine 10 outside the Vesey St. entrance but also were kept at bay.

Officials said an FDNY battalion chief fumed when told the Freedom Tower could not handle the 50 or 60 additional firefighters who showed up.

When asked about the decision to restrict FDNY access, Coleman would say only that the firefighters "were properly admitted as needed."

FDNY spokesman Jim Long downplayed the spat, saying both the FDNY and Port Authority "had the best intentions" of providing care to Jerez as quickly as possible.

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