An accommodating ego, a thick skin, a Type A work ethic, an optimistic world view. If the traits, discordant as they may seem, make the man, Kevin M. Rampe appears to have the right stuff to act as chief facilitator of a 9/11-mandated mission, the reconstruction of ground zero, which should come with a warning label. Danger: prepare to get chewed out, worn out and burned out. P.S.: that's how you'll know you're doing the job right.
Chewed out. Check. But this low-key president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation says he fears, and hears, the anguish of survivors of World Trade Center victims far more than the verbiage of agenda-conscious politicians or agita-prone architects. Worn out. Check. The work is "all consuming" and follows him home to Tarrytown - he and his wife moved there from Battery Park City before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Rampe may be pale and rumpled and a tad pudgier than he prefers because of an estrangement from his gym, but he is not yet burned out; then again, he is only a year into the assignment of a lifetime.
He is adamant that it will not last a lifetime. For one thing, he says, New Yorkers are not that patient; waiting the standard decade or so before choosing a site development plan and, more to the heart of the matter, a memorial plan, was out of the question. "You can't apply any of the classic rules to this site," he says. "This is not just a development process; it's part of the healing process."
For another thing, he holds this $200,000-a-year job at the pleasure of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki, in whose administration he worked as a senior legal adviser and as first deputy superintendent of the New York State Insurance Department. "But my role is not to push a policy agenda," he says.