Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Battle for Ground Zero, Part 198

First the bad news: Ground Zero workers who should be preparing the Deutsche Bank building for deconstruction have engaged in a work stoppage. They're complaining about the terms of a contract, just a week into the deconstruction process. Take Back The Memorial also comments on the progress, and the lack thereof.

Welcome to New York City construction jobs, where if the prices wont get you, labor disputes will.

Here's the good news: The WTC Memorial Foundation has changed the way that they will list the names on the memorial. This was one of the most contentious issues facing the memorial development from the outset.

The names will be grouped as follows:
The future memorial, featuring two sunken reflecting pools where the 110-story Twin Towers once stood, will list names of colleagues, relatives and emergency responders together in 10 groups.

Engraved around the north pool will be the largest group — the names of the 1,431 people who were working or visiting the North Tower that day, as well as the 87 passengers and crew aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first of four al Qaeda-hijacked jets to crash on Sept. 11, 2001. The largest group lost in the North Tower were 658 people in the offices of brokerage Cantor Fitzgerald, who trapped on the top floors above where the plane hit.

The other eight groupings will be posted around the South Tower pool, including more than 400 firefighters and police who perished on the scene.

When architect Michael Arad won the memorial competition three years ago, he had conceived the victims' names being listed randomly, reflecting the randomness in which people died in the 2001 attacks. But that sparked an outcry among some family groups, and especially the fire and police departments. Emergency responders will now be grouped together by command, precinct or company.

"I think it is right and appropriate that those uniformed personnel who heroically took part in the greatest rescue operation in our country's history will be listed with their companies, their brothers — with whom they bravely served side by side each day," said outgoing New York Gov. George Pataki, who has overseen the Trade Center rebuilding effort.

The south pool will list more than 700 victims who were working or visiting the South Tower as well as the 60 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 175, which crashed 16 minutes after the first plane, and victims whose specific location when they died is not known.

The memorial will also honor the victims of the other crash sites — the 50 passengers and crew who died aboard American Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon; the 125 military personnel and civilians killed inside the Pentagon, and 40 passengers and crew who died on United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after their uprising thwarted hijackers' plans to crash the plane in Washington, presumably into the Capitol.

The new memorial will also remember six people killed in the Feb. 26, 1993, truck bombing of a Trade Center garage. A marble fountain in their honor, which sat on the trade center plaza, was destroyed on Sept. 11.
This issue has been a thorn in the side of Foundation members, and family groups, companies who lost employees, and the various unions representing emergency responders (FDNY firefighters and police from the PANY and NYPD) wanted their members honored and grouped together instead of the random jumble that the Arad design originally intended. This decision will fix some of the issues, but the decision doesn't delineate when one group will begin and the next will end.

The Foundation has raised about 2/3 of the amount it needs to raise, but that figure is still well short of the total amount needed to build the memorial; the rest will be coming from federal funds, city, state, and Port Authority.

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