Audacity, democracy, grief: memorializing ground zero
As proposals stream in, nuance and need are delicately weighed.
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Comments like that upset some of the neighbors. One said they feared that the families want turn the area into "a cemetery." Another felt the families are being "disrespectful" of the people who have to live every day with the memories of what happened.Skip to next paragraph
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"When I was down there helping with the search-and-rescue efforts, I unfortunately found remains on West Street," says Mr. Ameruso, who is also a member of Community Board No. 1. "Now, no one is saying, 'Close West Street.' So what is this definition of sacred ground?"
The neighbors want to be sure that the area is brought back in a way that improves the overall quality of life for everyone who lives, works, and visits there. To them, that means integrating the original street grid to connect different parts of the community. They also want to ensure there's a bus depot on the site big enough to handle the influx of tourists.
The neighborhood is already congested with dozens of tour buses that, in violation of the law, often sit idling and spewing diesel fumes while their passengers visit ground zero, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. It's estimated between 3 million to 5 million people visit the area now. Once the new site is completed, some experts believe the number of tourists will at least double.
That raises alarms for neighbors who are still recovering from being displaced from their homes and whose lives are still interrupted daily by the construction already under way at the site.
"Before they choose the final design, they should realize there are not only people living here, but lots of kids that go to school here," says George Olsen, president of the Parent Teacher Association of Public School 234, which is just three blocks from ground zero. "We're looking at a lot more pollution downtown, and I think they really have to take the kids' health into consideration."
Members of the jury have already sat quietly through several meetings where such seemingly irreconcilable opinions were voiced, some with barely restrained emotion. It is clear from their own comments that they are taking to heart the concerns of all.
"The levels and the ripples that go out as far as the pain that was felt must be brought together," says Ms. Lin, a jury member who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. "I hope that I can add insight to the process."
It's generally agreed that few if anyone directly involved will be completely satisfied with the process. But many people are putting their faith in it, trusting the power of creative impulse.
"When you hear all of the requests, they sound cacophonous and unrelated, but they all are on a parallel track because they come from someone's heart," says Liz Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council who escaped the towers by one minute. "It is possible to have a vision that will be remarkable, that can meet everyone's needs on some level in a way that right now is not obvious."