As Businesses Near Ground Zero Struggle, City Plans Memorial Service On Disaster Site

WABC - New York, NY

(New York-WABC, October 22, 2001) -- There was encouraging news near Ground Zero Monday as J&R Music World, located just blocks from the wreckage, reopened. This as many other businesses struggle to survive the loss of so many customers. There are also plans now for a prayer service at ground zero this weekend for family members of the victims. NJ Burkett has the latest from lower Manhattan.

That service will be held on Sunday. The city plans to turn ground zero into a massive open air cathedral, a place where thousands will stand amid the wreckage to pray together and to grieve together.

For those who need to be there, there are private police escorts to ground zero. But because so many have been drawn to the site, the city is planning a huge memorial service for the families.

Police officers and firefighters, upon hearing about the plan, said it could only help. Barbara Gilespie lost a friend who was a New York City firefighter.

Barbara Gilespie, New Yorker: "When you think about it, this is sacred ground at this point. It could be a good thing for these people because they are all sharing the same painful experience."

The plans are still in the works, but city officials say they hope to bus relative into the site where enough of the wreckage will be cleared to accommodate thousands of mourners.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City: "Not every family member wants to go there, some do, some don't. What we tried to do is to allow members of families to make their own decisions in how to handle this, when they want to ask for a death certificate, if they want to go or they don't want to go."

For nearly six weeks businesses around ground zero have tried to battle back. As J&R Music World opened it's door the public Monday morning, the opening of One Liberty Plaza was delayed to allow for one more city inspection, which could take a few more days.

Bob DeNatale is a jeweler with a store just blocks from ground zero, and a view of the disaster site from his window on Broadway. DeNatale says at least one third of his regular customers were injured or killed or have relocated out of lower Manhattan.

Bob DeNatale, Peter DeNatale & Sons: "The various buildings were full of major corporations with the type of customer who would frequent our establishment and it's a great loss."

DeNatale says that half the people who died at Cantor Fitzgerald were among his customers. You get those kinds of stories no matter which business owners you talk to along Broadway.