NEW YORK – With the 10-month anniversary of Sept. 11 approaching, New Yorkers find themselves coping with its legacy in different ways.

Paul Wong
A fence borders Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York.
AP Photo

For University alum Beth Nissen, a CNN senior correspondent for NewsNight with Aaron Brown, confronting the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center towers and the city’s famous landscape is part of her job.

“I’ve revisited (the events of 9/11) in various forms,” Nissen said. “It’s never really gone away. It’s something I live with on almost a weekly basis.”

“Ground Zero has gone from a hallowed ground to a weird combination of construction site and tourist draw,” she added.

Since the end of the debris clean-up in May, New Yorkers are trying to find ways to rebuild both their lives and their city.

City officials working to remove the pieces of the fallen towers picked up over 1.4 million tons of debris and steel during the 8.5-month-long clean up, said Sid Disney, spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management.

“In any given 24-hour period, 600 to 700 workers were on site – construction workers, firemen, police officers,” Dinsey said. “It was a 24-hour operation, seven days a week.”

Now, the city is concentrating on plans to rebuild lower Manhattan. Officials hope to announce the first phase of a three-part plan for the area’s redevelopment to the public next week, said Nancy Poderycki, a spokeswoman for the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation.

She said the redevelopment corporation has worked extensively with the public in order to gain its opinion on the future of Ground Zero. The agency received over 1,000 prospective ideas, and they are still considering all the options, she added.

The corporation and the Port Authority hired Beyer, Blinder, Belle, an architectural firm based in the city, to lead a $3 million three-phase study, Poderycki said.

The first phase will produce up to six planning options for the site and the surrounding areas. The second phase, scheduled to be completed by mid-September, will involve narrowing down that list to just three options, while the final phase will refine the options from phase two to a final selection and a preferred alternative. That announcement should come in December, Poderycki said.

Poderycki said this month’s announcements will be “general” and “the final version of preliminary plans.” The plans will illustrate land use and transportation studies as well as reveal how much space will be devoted to shops, offices and a memorial, Poderycki added.

John Beyer, of Beyer Blinder and Belle, said the architecture and planning firm is sincere and serious in its mission to help redesign and revive the site of the attacks.

“The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation have given us a very great honor and a very great responsibility. We feel humbled when we consider the meaning of this assignment,” Beyer said in a written statement.

“The challenge will be to do it with the right touch of respect and invention. Exploring ways to reinvent the fabric of this tragic site and give it a new purpose becomes the goal to drive us,” he added.

The public and city are committed to finding an appropriate plan for reconstructing Ground Zero as a memorial and neighborhood.

“(Ground Zero) is a destination for people all over the world,” Poderycki said.

But reaching a consensus on what people want to see when they visit the site isn’t easy. Some individuals and organizations are pushing for the towers to be rebuilt as an act of defiance, a way to show the enemy that America won’t fall. Others want a memorial built in honor of those that died. And others aren’t quite sure what they’d like to see.

“I want to see some type of building back there,” LSA senior and New York native Lauren Sapega said, adding that she believes building a memorial is a “good idea because it’s always difficult to remember all those lost.”

“I’d actually like to see the buildings back up again. It’s important to rebuild downtown,” she added. “People know the skyline.”

Business school senior Jackie Feldner also said she wants the New York skyline restored – as long as it’s somewhere else.

“I think a tree memorial would be good,” she said. “They shouldn’t rebuild the Twin Towers. They should just have a memorial.”

Still, Poderycki said the public agrees on at least one points – that Ground Zero can’t remain as is.

“People feel strongly downtown should be a community bustling night and day,” Poderycki said. “People also want to restore cultural sites, add green space for recreation.”

An official construction schedule will be announced once a proposal is agreed upon. But even with Ground Zero rebuilt, the scars of Sept. 11 may never heal for some.

“It’s really disturbing if I’m watching television and I catch the Twin Towers,” Nissen said. “I get a physical little pang …. They’re gone but I still feel and see them. They’re still apart of New York to me.”

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