Governor George E. Pataki today demonstrated bold leadership for the revitalization of Lower Manhattan by affirming the aggressive timeline he set forth in April is "right on track," and even ahead of schedule, as he announced that the rebirth of the World Trade Center site will mark its most significant milestone on November 23, 2003, when the Port Authority restores PATH rail service linking Lower Manhattan to New Jersey - one month ahead of schedule.
Speaking at an Association for a Better New York/Downtown Lower Manhattan Association luncheon at the Ritz Carlton, Governor Pataki also announced that in keeping with his promise to ensure that a memorial befitting the heroes who died September 11th is the most important element of the rebuilding process, eight proposals for the memorial are expected to go on exhibition at the Winter Garden during the week of November 17th for the public to review, while the distinguished jury continues to deliberate.
"For all the grand plans we've made, for all the structures we will build, and for all the dreams we will realize, we can never forget those dreams that will never be realized," Governor Pataki said.
Memorial Designs to be Exhibited
During the week of November 17th, eight proposed memorial designs are expected to be exhibited at the Winter Garden as the jury continues to deliberate.
John Whitehead, who has served as the chairman of the LMDC since its inception, has agreed to launch a new foundation that will fund and construct the memorial and museum once the design has been selected.
Freedom Tower Design to be Released
"Now that the plan for the site has been refined, it's clear that Daniel Libeskind's compelling vision emerged not only intact, but improved," Governor Pataki said. "We expanded the site, created more open space while reducing the amount of commercial space, and most importantly, we preserved the sanctity of the footprints."
Governor Pataki announced today that the design for the Freedom Tower, a collaboration of two of the greatest architects of our time, Daniel Liebskind and David Childs, will be revealed on December 15th.
PATH Terminal Re-Opening and Other Transportation Initiatives
The Governor's vision for a 21st century transportation network in Lower Manhattan is gaining momentum.
"At 9:10 am on the morning of September 11, 2001, a PATH train pulled into the World Trade Center to rescue the people on the platform," Governor Pataki said. "It closed its doors and left the station, becoming the last train to leave before the south tower collapsed."
On November 23rd, those same eight cars that left the station will be the first train to come back, finishing a journey it began over two years ago.
In addition to the reopening of the PATH, the Governor also gave the following updates on transportation initiatives he outlined in April:
Permanent PATH Terminal
In order to create a spectacular point of arrival on the World Trade Center site akin to Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority has retained world renowned architect Santiago Calatrava to design the permanent PATH terminal. The permanent PATH terminal promises to be a new architectural icon for our city and a grand new civic space for Lower Manhattan.
Next Spring, the Port Authority will release Calatrava's preliminary design for the permanent PATH station.
Fulton Street Transit Hub
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has already begun design work on a new Fulton Street transit hub that will harmonize a tangled web of nine subway lines connecting Lower Manhattan with the rest of the City.
The Fulton Street transit hub design will be unveiled this Spring. One of the city's most important early skyscrapers, the Corbin Building, will be incorporated into the design, preserving our history.
"When the permanent PATH station and the Fulton Street Transit Hub are completed and connected through an underground concourse, Lower Manhattan will become one of the most accessible business districts in the world," Governor Pataki said.
Regional and airport access is crucial to Lower Manhattan's continued viability as the Financial Capital of the World and as the country's third largest business district. We are about to realize the promise of rail access to JFK, when the Airtrain JFK project begins passenger service later this year.
The recent lease agreement reached between the city and the Port Authority provides $90 million to study rail access from downtown Manhattan to JFK and Newark Liberty airports. The deal also commits up to $1 billion - $500 million each for JFK and Newark - toward construction if the plan finds direct access viable.
In January, a menu of concrete options for direct access to be studied will be announced, and in April 2004, one will be selected.
While everyone works together to realize JFK, Newark and Long Island access, the Port Authority has developed interim solutions to airport access. This summer, the Port Authority received eight proposals for a fast ferry to LaGuardia, proving there is indeed a market for such a service.
By the end of 2004, we will begin operating a fast ferry to LaGuardia, and by 2005, a fast ferry to JFK.
With the reopening of PATH service next month, the commute to Lower Manhattan will get easier for thousands of New Jersey residents, but the commute to the northern suburbs could always be improved. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, ferry service has proven to be a valuable alternative mode of transportation for thousands of commuters.
Today, the Governor called on the LMDC to help create the first Westchester ferry to Lower Manhattan. The new ferry, from Yonkers to Lower Manhattan, will shorten the commute to forty minutes from over an hour.
Visitors are also returning to Downtown in record numbers.
Next month, the Downtown Alliance will launch a free and continuous bus service that will knit together Downtown's east and west sides, bringing Lower Manhattan residents, workers and visitors closer to area businesses, events, shopping and attractions.
Building on Quality of Life Initiatives Outlined in April
In April, Governor Pataki called on the LMDC to implement approximately $50 million dollars in short-term capital projects to increase accessibility and enhance the quality of life in and around Lower Manhattan.
Governor Pataki said today, "But we must not relax our efforts. Let's seize the momentum we unleashed in April with a second wave of short term initiatives to further improve the quality of life Downtown." Below are a number of initiatives that complete and build on that vision:
Creation of More Open Space
In April, the Governor and Mayor Bloomberg vowed they would make the largest investment in parks in Lower Manhattan since the creation of Battery Park City. They announced the creation of a network of parks and open spaces throughout Lower Manhattan - part of a shared vision to transform downtown into a true mixed-used community. They recognized that in order to succeed, they must first create the amenities that make a neighborhood a great place to live.
Next week, the first new parks project, the reconstruction of a plaza near Pace University, will be announced. It will include new pavement, benches, lighting and landscaping. It's just one of more than a dozen enhancements to parks and open spaces throughout Lower Manhattan.
Seven more parks projects will debut and open to the public this Spring, and another seven will be complete by the end of 2004. In total, working with Mayor Bloomberg and the City, we will have created or renovated over 50 acres of public space south of Houston Street.
New York Stock Exchange Improvements
Last April, Governor Pataki called on the LMDC to work with the City and the New York Police Department to protect the New York Stock Exchange in a way that doesn't come at the expense of the community.
Next month, the Governor and Mayor will unveil a new vision for the area surrounding the New York Stock Exchange, including security measures that blend into the streetscape, planters that bring life to the financial district and more fitting gateways to this historic district. Work will begin immediately, and the first phase will be completed by next Spring.
Vesey Street Pedestrian Bridge to Open
On August 20th, we broke ground on a new pedestrian bridge over Vesey Street to reconnect the World Financial Center and Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan. The bridge will be used by approximately 6,000 pedestrians an hour during the morning rush.
Today, the Governor announced the bridge will open on the morning of November 22nd, in time to welcome the first PATH train commuters the following day.
Building on Tourism Campaigns and Support for Cultural Institutions
This summer, Empire State Development partnered with American Express to launch a new I Love New York marketing campaign that positions Lower Manhattan as a great place to shop and dine. The campaign features a 60-second television commercial, and AMEX is offering additional incentives to card members who patronize downtown businesses.
One of the ways to increase tourism is to make Chinatown more attractive to visitors. Numerous Chinatown organizations have united around the concept of a Chinatown Cultural Center that will provide performance and arts space for neighborhood-based cultural organizations.
Today, the Governor is calling upon LMDC to complete the financing for a feasibility study, an important step in making the cultural center a reality.
The LMDC launched History and Heritage last summer, a campaign to promote Manhattan's cultural treasures and storied history to visitors around the world. In April, the Governor called on the LMDC to invite cultural institutions around the world to consider locating on the World Trade Center site. The LMDC has since received 112 proposals to transform the site into a new cultural epicenter.
Early next year, the LMDC will announce a process to program more than 300,000 square feet of cultural space and allocate millions of dollars to support Lower Manhattan cultural institutions.
Another New School for Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan is the fastest growing residential community in the City. Even with the opening of Millennium High School in September, Lower Manhattan still needs new schools.
Governor Pataki today called on the LMDC to work with the Mayor and the community to create a new school, serving Kindergarten through 8th grades.
"I have no doubt that we will succeed," Governor Pataki said. "When we needed to restore PATH service to Lower Manhattan, we moved heaven and earth. When we needed to raise funds for a new high school, we moved hearts and minds. In testament to the enduring spirit of September 11th, our resolve has never been stronger."
The Governor closed his remarks today by saying: "Join me in finishing our journey to rebuild our city, today, and every day thereafter," Governor Pataki said, "until the last job returns, the last building is restored and until every last person we lost is honored in a fitting memorial."