Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 37

The mess at Ground Zero takes center stage at the New York Post today, with wall to wall coverage of the disastrous management by the Port Authority. Steve Cuozzo notes that the Port Authority is busy trying to unload the Freedom Tower construction on some other company, potentially Related Cos. or Brookfield, but the report released yesterday by the Port Authority omits any mention of the Freedom Tower and that mess.

Cuozzo savages the Port Authority for its ongoing decision to try and get Calatrava's PATH station built according to Calatrava's wishes, which is pushing the memorial and other projects behind schedule and affecting everything due to the extraordinary costs.

The Post highlights the six people most responsible for the mess: Larry Silverstein, George Pataki, Anthony Shorris, Avi Schick, Charles Gargano, and Eliot Spitzer. I'd argue that Silverstein is least responsible among that bunch for the mess, since he's been at the mercy of the Port Authority's Shorris and the EDC and LMDC, run by Pataki's people Gargano and Schick. Spitzer did nothing to improve matters, and it looks like Governor Paterson is taking the first steps to impose order on the site. Charles Ward's report shows just how bad things are when he can't even come up with all of the parameters for just how off the rails the rebuilding has gone.

Here's just a sampling of the problems:
Ward said he had found the following issues that are critical to the overall project were still unresolved:

- Final design of the transportation hub and vehicle security center.

- Demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.

- Accurate projection of rising construction costs, primarily caused by the country's oil crisis.

- Coordination of more than 100 contractors and subcontractors and 19 government agencies.

- Design and schedule for rebuilding the Cortlandt St. subway station.

Ward offered no new timetables or cost estimates in his review, which was prepared at Gov. Paterson's request.

He said he hoped to do so by September if these critical issues are addressed.
Of course, anyone who has read through my coverage of the rebuilding at Ground Zero would know that it's been an absolute battle. Cuozzo and Tom Toupisis at the Post have been reporting on this for years as well. It's not like it was a secret that the rebuilding was a mess and that the Port Authority and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation have botched the rebuilding.

The Deutsche Bank building debacle is a significant reason for ongoing delays since it is where the transportation hub and security screening facility is to be located, and it has yet to be demolished due to ongoing contamination concerns and the fact that remains were discovered at the building in 2006, forcing a renewed search throughout the area.

And for those who think that Donald Trump will come in and save things, you'd be sadly mistaken. There is not going to be some massive redesign of the site followed by the construction of the Twin Towers. That's simply not going to happen as the site is being prepared for the construction of the currently planned towers. Imposing a completely new design for rebuilding at Ground Zero would push back all the timetables even further, and delay rebuilding for years.

It's also funny listening to some of the political "leaders" complaining about the glacial pace of reconstruction and the candor of the Ward report. Where were these people when the rebuilding was lagging years ago and could prod the political leaders most responsible into action? That includes people like Jerrold Nadler, Charles Schumer, Sheldon Silver, and Scott Stringer. They were missing in action, and only now do we hear from them? Sad.

The Calatrava designed transit hub has gone through yet another revision. No longer will the soaring winged roof open. An opening will remain, but it's far smaller than previous versions. Of course, those aspects of the design were what got people interested in the hub in the first place. Pretty soon, it will look no different than the completely utilitarian and bland temporary structure we have at present.

No comments: