In a Space This Sacred, Every Square Foot Counts
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
Published: April 29, 2004
Almost since the first dawn after the attack, the watchwords in Lower Manhattan have been remembrance and reconstruction. That is easy to vow in a speech, harder to achieve in a blueprint. As plans for downtown projects become more specific in coming months, the tension between these two goals is sure to grow.
Indeed, it seemed until yesterday that the two were about to collide in Battery Park, at Fritz Koenig's "Sphere for Plaza Fountain." This 25-foot bronze sculpture was once the centerpiece of the Austin J. Tobin Plaza at the World Trade Center.
Dented, cracked, pierced by jagged holes and torn as if made of fabric, the sphere - indomitable and instantly recognizable - now stands in the park as an official interim memorial, with a flame burning before it.
To judge from maps prepared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it appears that a subway tunnel leading to the planned new South Ferry terminal would come close to the sphere, suggesting strongly that it may have to be relocated.
The authority acknowledged that about 40 trees in Battery Park would be affected by construction. It has pledged to replant or replace them.
But little was said publicly about the fate of the sphere until the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat who represents much of Lower Manhattan, was quoted yesterday in The Staten Island Advance as criticizing the South Ferry proposal.
In a transcript of a news conference released by his office, Mr. Silver said: "The expansion of that particular subway entrance and platform would require the dismantling of what is now the temporary memorial to the 9/11 victims of the World Trade Center attack. On that basis, we don't think that there is an appropriate plan before us that warrants support."