Proposed Federal Study for WTC Tribute Critized

Just days before eight Ground Zero memorial designs are made public, development officials yesterday criticized a proposed federal study aimed at putting the National Park Service in charge of the tribute.November 17, 2003 -- Just days before eight Ground Zero memorial designs are made public, development officials yesterday criticized a proposed federal study aimed at putting the National Park Service in charge of the tribute.

They said a bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) that authorizes the study could cause delays in rebuilding if it is passed

But Maloney and 9/11 family members said the study is needed to determine whether the Twin Towers' "footprints" should be given landmark status - which could keep anything but the memorial from being built on them.

"We are undertaking a comprehensive environmental review which incorporates the historic nature of the footprints," said Lower Manhattan Development Corp. president Kevin Rampe.

"An additional layer of bureaucracy will not lead to a better result but will serve only to delay the construction of an appropriate memorial."

He warned that decisions about things like the Freedom Tower, a permanent PATH station and the memorial itself could be stalled.

Giving the memorial site federal status now could take control away from state and city officials, he added.

On Wednesday, the LMDC will reveal eight finalists chosen by a jury in an international memorial design competition. A winning design will be picked before the end of the year.

The bill, introduced earlier this month by Maloney and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), would require the Park Service to complete a study within six months "to evaluate the national significance of the site and the suitability and feasibility of establishing the site as a unit of the national park system."

The bill is backed by the Coalition of 9/11 Families, which wants to preserve the footprints of the Twin Towers down to bedrock - and objects to projects such as an expanded PATH train platform that would encroach on them.

Anthony Gardner, whose brother, Harvey, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, said the study would focus on things such as the remains of the Twin Towers' steel columns, which were cut down to bedrock during the Ground Zero recovery effort.

"They're the last trace of the original towers on bedrock," Gardner said. "There needs to be a closer evaluation and assessment of what is there before they go ahead and pour millions of tons of concrete on top of these [columns]."

Maloney defended the bill, saying, "A quick rebuilding is a wonderful goal but not at the expense of getting this right."

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