Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LMDC: Deutsche Bank fire an example of good coordination

The New York state public authorities tried to defend their actions in the wake of the deadly Deutsche Bank fire. Here's what Metro reports in "Who's to blame":
Avi Schick, chairman of the LMDC, defended his agency.

“The deconstruction plan was conceived of and approved by a variety of federal, city and state regulators,” he said. “It was not proposed by LMDC but was put together in coordination with those agencies. Those agencies were on-site every single day and every single week that work occurred. We believe that those features exceeded what would have been normally provided.” (emphasis added)

For those who are facing oversight by other projects lead by state and city agencies, that sounds pretty frightening.

One feature common by the state agencies is blaming the community. Here's a quote from Debris fell but price kept rising by Juan Gonzalez:

[LMDC spokesperson Errol] Cockfield said. "There's been a desire from the community to have this building demolished and you have to balance safety along with the need to bring the building down at an aggressive pace."

Community leaders dispute that.

They say they have always urged safety, not rapid demolition. They say LMDC and City Hall have pressed to demolish the building quickly so Ground Zero construction can get going.

"We repeatedly called for a single agency to oversee the deconstruction and environmental aspects," said Amy Rutkin, chief of staff for Rep. Jerrold Nadler. "They kept kicking the ball back and forth between agencies for years."

Some have blamed the Fire Department for the recent deaths, but not Jerome M. Hauer, director of the city's Office of Emergency Management from 1996-2000. According to the NY Times,
he said the accountability for what occurred “has to rest” with the building owner and the demolition operators, not with the Fire Department.

There are still many questions regarding the Deutsche Bank fire, and this blog takes no position on the ultimate responsibility. Nevertheless, the fire does not provide any comfort for those confronting other projects led by public authorities, like Duffield Street residents facing the NYC Economic Development Corporation.