There is the whiff of good sense and victory in the efforts to preserve the World Trade Center memorial as a memorial and find someplace else to build the International Freedom Center that does not belong there. The Post reports today:
Officials are searching for new locations — some away from Ground Zero — to house a pair of controversial cultural centers slated for construction next to the 9/11 memorial, it was revealed yesterday.
“We’re making one last look around the site to see where it is feasible,” said John Whitehead, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., referring to the hunt for homes for the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center.
The officials are looking “within the 16 acres” of the World Trade Center “and beyond,” he said at an LMDC board meeting.
The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation has asked him to look for a different space for the two centers, Whitehead said.
But, he added, it’s doubtful they will be moved.
“It’s not likely that we would find another place, but we are making an effort,” he said.
Well, try a little harder, sir.
Like the families, I have never suggested that these centers should not be built. But they should not be built at the World Trade Center (not on its 16 acres) for they do not belong there. They distract and detract from the memorial. And any effort to make them inofffensive if they are built there will only be seen as censorship. So from the start, I called for them to be built elsewhere. Now it appears that process has begun.
Unfortunately, the sniping at the families who have brought this to our attention continues:
Whitehead, meanwhile, took aim yesterday at three directors on the foundation’s board who have publicly criticized the proposed cultural projects.
“The misrepresentations they have offered have done serious damage,” he said without naming names. “The public is confused about the elements of the site.”
Monika Iken, Debra Burlingame and Lee Ielpi — each of whom lost a family member on 9/11 — have opposed the cultural centers.
The public has “been told that the campaign is to ‘take back the memorial’ — as if it ever went away,” Whitehead said in an apparent reference to the critics’ Take Back the Memorial campaign.
Last night, Burlingame accused Whitehead of having violated the memorial board’s code of conduct, unanimously adopted this week.
“It is regrettable that the ink is barely dry on the code . . . [yet] the chairman would slander three of the board members while at the same trying to muzzle us,” she said.
The board meeting was attended by several relatives of victims of the terror attacks who oppose the cultural projects.
“He’s already dismissed the idea that it could happen,” said Charles Wolf, whose wife was killed on 9/11.
The reference was to Whitehead’s unenthusiastic pledge to look elsewhere for the cultural centers.
In an edidtorial, the Post also calls Whitehead on his pouting, foot-dragging, apparently insincere effort to find new sites for the center.
the governor would do well to get Whitehead in sync with the new plan.
Or maybe it’s not a plan at all — but rather a scheme to dupe those who object to politics at the 9/11 memorial.
For Whitehead immediately discounted the plan, saying “it’s not likely” another site will be found.
This means either Pataki’s folks are dissembling again (imagine that), or that Whitehead, arrogant as always, is thumbing his nose at the governor….
The IFC and the Drawing Center may or may not have something to add to the post-9/11 debate.
But not at Ground Zero.
Pataki and Whitehead (whoever is in charge today) need to move them offsite — once and for all.Look harder, Mr. Whitehead.
The International Freedom Center can be built in lots of other places in New York. Ground zero is the wrong place. The “small, vocal group of protesters” you speak of represents what most New Yorkers think. You are out of touch with the public.
: See also the Take Back the Memorial blog, where more than 33,000 people have signed the petition disagreeing with Whitehead and the Times editorialists.