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CNN PRESENTS

16 Acres

Aired August 31, 2002 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: It's a struggle over hallowed ground, 16 acres demolished by terrorists.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about what kind of a city do we want for the 21st Century.

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ANNOUNCER: Builders envision new office towers.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps 70, 75 stories in height.

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ANNOUNCER: But victims' families call it a place to remember.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you decide what to put on the site without putting a memorial somewhere first?

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ANNOUNCER: A whole new city chimes in and awaits the fate of Ground Zero.

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GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: It's too important for a handful of people behind closed doors to make this decision.

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AARON BROWN, ANCHOR, CNN PRESENTS: Welcome to CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown. On September 11, 2001 nearly 3,000 people lost their lives when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were struck by hijacked airplanes and came crumbling down along with the surrounding buildings.

What was left after the terrorists attacked? Beyond the grief and the disbelief was a 16-acre hole in the heart of Lower Manhattan, and with it an almost instant debate over how to rebuild on what for many is and will always be hallowed ground.

It is a delicate balance, a balance between honoring those who died on September 11 and building an economic foundation for renewal in Lower Manhattan. And so CNN PRESENTS, 16 ACRES, a look at the fight over the future of Ground Zero.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Long before New York had buried its dead, long before the smoldering obscenity that was once the Twin Towers was cleared out, the battle over Lower Manhattan, the towers' site, the 16 acres was joined. Competing visions and competing needs, so many voices demanding to be heard, first among them those who lost the most.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never lose sight of the innocent lives that went to work one day and never came home.

BROWN: The residents of the Trade Centers' neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will never be back to normal. There is no normal. There's a new normal.

BROWN: It is easy to say this.

PATAKI: Lower Manhattan is going to be rebuilt.

BROWN: It is harder to know with what. What should go there? Who should decide? How should those decisions be made? It is all happening quickly, designs floated, concepts rejected. Somehow divisions over rebuilding what's next have replaced the unified sense of grief over what was.

All that remains of the Trade Center is its foundation wall, a three-foot-thick concrete basement. In the passing of a year, that mammoth pile has become an empty pit. Ken Holden organized the recovery operation for New York City.

KEN HOLDEN, ORGANIZED RECOVERY: There were no survivors and it really became a debris removal effort, which was guided by the recovery of human remains.

BROWN: Yet even as trucks moved the debris, as recovery teams scoured the ground, even then competing visions emerged. Developer Larry Silverstein, the Trade Center leaseholder said: "It would be the tragedy of tragedies not to rebuild."

LARRY SILVERSTEIN, LEASEHOLDER, WTC: We hope as quickly as possible to replace the ten million square feet lost at the Twin Tower site.

BROWN: The site after all was a home to commerce, a place where 50,000 people worked for hundreds of companies and for the government. There were stores and restaurants in an underground mall. The Twin Towers were a symbol of American capitalism but they were more.

PAUL GOLDBERGER, THE NEW YORKER: The Trade Center meant, it meant the skyline.

BROWN: Paul Goldberger writes about architecture for "The New Yorker" magazine.

GOLDBERGER: It's interesting because the towers were never beloved by New Yorkers. The Empire State Building was the beloved symbol for people who lived here. But because they were bigger, they became beloved by the world, and they took on this symbolic role for the world that, in a strange way, meant more than they meant within the city itself. In a way, they meant the same thing for the tourists and the terrorists.

BROWN: We're more romantic about those two buildings today in a lot of ways than we ever were.

GOLDBERGER: Absolutely. We never had the experience of skyscrapers as martyrs before.

BROWN: Now buildings are not people. You don't replace 2,800 lives lost. You can't replace 400 firefighters and police officers dead. But you can replace buildings. You can repair a broken skyline and you can honor those who perished.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK: You've got to think about it from the point of view of a soaring, beautiful memorial.

BROWN: A growing consensus ranked the memorial as the top priority but not the only one.

CHARLES GARGANO, VICE CHAIRMAN, PORT AUTHORITY OF NY, NJ: Jobs must be created. Valuable square footage must be replaced.

BROWN: Neighborhood leaders clamored for more housing and green space. Urban planners appeared with a generation's worth of suppressed ideas and desires, a modern transportation hub, restoring the area's grid of street that was obliterated by the construction of the two towers.

New York Governor George Pataki and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani created the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to oversee this project. The LMDC, as it is known, warned everyone be patient.

JOHN WHITEHEAD, CHAIRMAN, LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORP.: We will be judged by what we do five years from now much more, and for the next hundred years after that, much more than we will be judged today or tomorrow or next week.

BROWN: There are all these constituent groups. How is that being balanced? How does everyone get their say and can everyone get what they want?

GOLDBERGER: Because of the symbolic import of this, everybody feels a vested interest, everybody in New York, everybody in America, and indeed in many ways everybody in the world feels they have a stake in what happens and they care. I don't think any 16 acres in our lifetime anywhere in the world has been subject to as much international scrutiny as this. There's no way that anything that happens there is going to please everybody.

BROWN: Next on CNN PRESENTS:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I want to know is how much space are we going to get to do the memorial?

BROWN: What the victims' families want.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Whatever becomes of Ground Zero, whatever is built there, it will always stand as a place of lives interrupted. Lawyers and window washers, bankers and busboys, firefighters and cops, the memorial whenever it becomes is ours of course but it is especially theirs.

MONICA EICHEN (ph), LOST HUSBAND AT WTC: I want to create the most beautiful memorial the world will ever see, one that is peaceful, something that honors the lives of the lost that we all know who they were, what they were. We never forget the faces of these lives that went to work one day and never came home. My gift back to my husband is to make sure he's honored.

BROWN: Monica Eichen, once a schoolteacher, now a widow at 31.

EICHEN: Actually, I was trying to get pregnant and Michael kept saying it was going to happen in September.

BROWN: Michael Eichen worked for the financial firm Euro Brokers on the 84th floor of the South Tower. After the North Tower was attacked, Michael called his wife at home to say he was safe, and then she saw on TV the second plane hit the tower where her husband worked.

EICHEN: The image of this plane coming out of a screen and heading straight for the building, I'm like no, and for the first time in my whole life, in 31 years, I was frozen in time. I felt like I couldn't move. I can't even explain it because I'm thinking no, he got out. He had enough time.

BROWN: Like so many others, there were days of searching hospitals, days of hope, and days of denial, and like so many others, Michael Eichen's remains will stay forever at Ground Zero, his body never recovered.

EICHEN: I just can't believe that this has become my story. One minute I was, you know, going to go back to teaching, looking forward to getting pregnant, being a mom. I knew how excited he'd be and the next minute it's all gone. I am Monica Eichen, founder of September's Mission.

BROWN: We grieve, all of us, in different ways. Monica Eichen turned sorrow into activism, a leading voice now among the victims' families.

EICHEN: Our mission is to support the development of a memorial park on the former World Trade Center site. BROWN: Wherever there is a public forum it seems there is Ms. Eichen.

EICHEN: We need to honor those lives that were lost which makes sure that everyone has something, somewhere, a place of reflection. We can make a difference.

BROWN: In private gatherings, she rallies other families.

EICHEN: Because we can try to get National Park status.

BROWN: Her bottom line, a peaceful place to go and remember.

EICHEN: To me that whole space is sacred and hallowed where people died horrific deaths.

BROWN: Is the total package essential in your mind, all 16 acres?

EICHEN: If I had my choice, I would take all 16 acres because of the fact that when the buildings fell people were found everywhere.

ANTHONY GARDNER (ph), LOST BROTHER AT WTC: I think they're all civilian casualties of war. They died in an attack on this country.

BROWN: Anthony Gardner lost his brother, his brother Harvey, computer technician to his boss, role model to his baby brother.

GARDNER: He was more like a father to me. He was ten years older than me and helped to raise me. Our relationship changed. He was a dad. Then he was a brother. Then he was a friend. These are all the things we could address at a memorial rally.

BROWN: Like Eichen, Gardner became an activist.

GARDNER: What I think would be a winning solution is starting with the memorial and then having everything on the site that sort of reflects that theme of the memorial, dedicated to not on the people we lost but the event itself to teach people about what happened.

BROWN: Gardner and Eichen turned to the people of Oklahoma City because the people of Okalahoma City know better than most how to turn great sorrow into an appropriate memorial.

DORIS JONES, LOST DAUGHTER IN OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING: Don't be in a big hurry. We didn't get ours built overnight. It was five years before the outside memorial was built.

BROWN: Doris Jones has been involved from the beginning. Her pregnant daughter Carrie (ph) was one of the 168 fatalities from Tim McVeigh's truck bomb.

JONES: We have a common bond, that feeling that no one can have until you've been in that situation where you lose someone like that from a total act of terrorist that you have no control over. These people just went to work and they died. BROWN: In Oklahoma City, victims are individually honored by the signature feature of the memorial, the chairs.

KEN THOMPSON (ph), LOST MOTHER IN OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING: The chair is meant to be the empty chair at the dinner table every day. It represents the fact that this is where our mother is on sacred ground.

BROWN: Ken Thompson's mother Virginia worked inside the Federal Building. Hers was the last body pulled from the rubble.

THOMPSON: In Oklahoma City we were very lucky, everyone was found and identified, which is something that we obviously got to have and the people from New York have not.

BROWN: There are, in fact, many differences, the number of dead for one and Oklahoma City needed to close down just one street and take over just one privately-owned building. New York needs to think about and rebuild 16 acres, some of the most valuable real estate in the country.

THOMPSON: The actual footprint of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City is sacred ground to us.

BROWN: Ken Thompson and Doris Jones are among the handful of Oklahoma City victims' families that have visited New York to help families here, explaining what they went through to get the memorial that they wanted or offering a shoulder to lean on.

THOMPSON: I just want to be helpful to any victims in New York to be able to move forward, to understand that there is really life again.

BROWN: Kathy Miller (ph) never intended to be an activist. Her father died on the 100th floor of Tower 1.

KATHY MILLER, LOST FATHER AT WTC: He was a tough dad growing up and somehow it's like a switch flipped around my 20s and we became best friends.

BROWN: In her grief just days after the attack, Kathy Miller needed a friend, not someone else grieving, not a member of her family, but someone who could understand that which is incomprehensible.

MILLER: I said I got to talk to somebody. I got to contact somebody else who's been through a tragedy who's alive so many years later because I didn't feel like I was going to wake up the next morning.

BROWN: She e-mailed the Oklahoma City Memorial website and Ken Thompson responded with a phone call.

MILLER: I said, you know, do you laugh? Do you tell jokes? Because it was four days afterward and I couldn't think of ever laughing again. Do you have Christmas? Do you have holidays? BROWN: You needed to know that eventually you would feel alive again.

MILLER: I needed hope. They gave me hope.

BROWN: A friendship blossomed, two victims of terrorism, each losing a parent, each focused on honoring them and providing each other with emotional support. This year Miller and Gardner and Eichen were part of a small delegation of New York families that attended the annual ceremony in Oklahoma City.

GARDNER: It's truly a place of peace and reverence. You get the sense that these people, that the spirits of these people are there.

JONES: I do better going there than I do the cemetery. I go out and I look at a chair at the memorial and I know that she's not going to be forgotten.

BROWN: Families with a shared experience, families able to comfort each other in a difficult time.

MILLER: On top of everything, I am Bob Kennedy's daughter and I need to have a space to go and to grieve him and whatever that may be, whether it's one little brick or 16 acres, as far as I'm concerned that's his space in the world.

BROWN: Now there is something else that needs to be said here and it is neither easy to say nor easy to hear.

GOLDBERGER: I would say with the greatest respect to these people that it is not the obligation of society to let them make the decision because the purpose of the memorial is not so they will feel better. The purpose of the memorial is to honor, to remember, and to help future generations understand what happened.

BROWN: Goldberger and the families do agree on this, there is a battle forming, a fierce battle between their vision of what a memorial can be and the powerful forces of business.

EICHEN: I think money overrides that vision. Corporate interest overrides businesses, override real estate, overrides - we can't allow money to override human loss of life. We just can't.

SILVERSTEIN: We're doing this for our future.

BROWN: This man plans to build skyscrapers on Ground Zero.

SILVERSTEIN: Fifty, 55, 60, 65, 70-story buildings.

BROWN: When 16 ACRES returns the man with the 99-year lease.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SILVERSTEIN: You look up at the sky you see tall buildings. It gives one the incentive to say, wait a minute, I could build one of those. Maybe I could build it better. Maybe I could build it higher. BROWN: Real estate developer Larry Silverstein is an almost perfect character in a New York drama. A child of Russian immigrants, a native of Brooklyn, in a city of dreamers he found his in the Manhattan skyline. It was Silverstein who built the 47th floor office tower on the last open parcel of land abutting the Trade Center site. The building opened in 1987 and was called simply World Trade Center #7. It was the beginning.

SILVERSTEIN: I remember looking up at the Twin Towers and saying to myself, my God look at those towers, look at the majesty of those buildings. Wouldn't it be incredible to some day own those?

BROWN: And 14 years later, he essentially did. Larry Silverstein beat out a host of rivals to sign a 99-year lease on the Trade Center in July of 2001, making his final pitch just five days after being hit by a car and suffering a broken pelvis. So you did this deal ultimately from a hospital bed?

SILVERSTEIN: I told the doctors to reduce the morphine so that I could think, called all my people together. They came to the hospital and that is where we framed the final bid for the center.

BROWN: He agreed to pay the owners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, $124 million a year in rent. Six weeks later came September 11. Mr. Silverstein's lease gives him the right to rebuild and it obligates the Port Authority to let him try.

SILVERSTEIN: I began to receive letters from lots of friends and from people around the globe, most of whom I didn't know, almost overwhelmingly they said rebuild and not a floor less than 110 stories, two towers.

BROWN: As a practical matter, that's not going to happen, right? You're not going to build two giant skyscrapers again?

SILVERSTEIN: I don't think in good conscience I could recommend that. What I think is more logical and more rational is to conceptualize buildings that are more contextual, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70- story buildings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you just look at what was there.

BROWN: Silverstein hired architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owens & Merrill (ph) to design new office buildings to recreate ten million square feet of office space that was the Trade Center Towers.

DAVID CHILDS, SKIDMORE, OWENS & MERRILL: Larry, in late September, felt that it was very important to not only have a major section of the site, perhaps the largest section, perhaps a third of the site reserved for a memorial so the replacement building...

BROWN: With the site decision months away at best, Childs designed a replacement for World Trade Center 7, Silverstein's building just off the 16 acres, and construction there is already underway. CHILDS: But, Larry, this is his audition for the big site. It's really the entrance marker for all of the World Trade Center development.

BROWN: Childs repositioned the new tower to allow one street that used to dead end into the Trade Center, to pass through. This concession was the first step toward restoring Lower Manhattan's historic street grid, where streets were cut off when the Trade Center was built 30 years ago.

ANNOUNCER: One of the most dramatic events in New York City in the 1960s was the construction of the World Trade Center.

BROWN: The Twin Towers were conceived, not as a tourist attraction though they became that, but to revive the city's historic financial district. In the 1960s the downtown neighborhood with its old warehouses and electronic stores on so-called Radio Row, was rundown. Company offices had been migrating north to Midtown Manhattan.

GOLDBERGER: David Rockefeller who ran Chase Manhattan Bank was determined to stem the tide but mistakenly thought that the way to do it was to build more big office space and if it had some dazzling new buildings that would keep people there.

BROWN: The project was so big only government could afford it. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, David's brother, looked to the transportation agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to make it happen. A hundred feet taller than the Empire State building, the 110-story towers rose 1,360 feet. They took seven years to build. The gleaming steel outer walls bore most of the weight and created an acre of column-free space on every floor.

FRANK LOMBARDI (ph), CHIEF ENGINEER, WORLD TRADE CENTER: You have West Street.

BROWN: Engineers built the Trade Center and kept it running.

LOMBARDI: This was the original alignment.

BROWN: Chief engineer Frank Lombardi has worked 30 years for the Port Authority. Lombardi is a two-time terrorism survivor, escaping from inside the Trade Center after the 1993 truck bombing and escaping again on the 11th of September. Like Silverstein, Lombardi feels a personal mission to see office buildings rise again reviving the economic life that terrorists tried to destroy.

LOMBARDI: My heart tells me to rebuild those towers, but my brain tells me that6 that can't happen.

BROWN: On the 11th when the first plane hit the North Tower, Lombardi was at his desk on the 72nd floor. He felt the impact. He saw the fireball out his window. He did not know what caused it.

LOMBARDI: We went down very quickly. The stairs were lit. There wasn't any panic. BROWN: Of the 2,000 Port Authority staffers in the building, 75 died. Lombardi worked with many of them. His shock turned to disbelief, which grew to anger, and has now become resolve.

LOMBARDI: I feel that part of the bill of surviving is to do something. You can still see the rings...

BROWN: At Ground Zero, Lombardi supervises the renovation of train tunnels that brought 70,000 commuters a day from New Jersey across the river to the Trade Center stop.

LOMBARDI: This is basically the blood line, getting back all the infrastructure that would allow a train to come in.

BROWN: Restoring transportation is the first step to rebuilding these 16 acres, from the underground up, a big down payment for a new transportation hub is $4.5 billion pledged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. It will help build a terminal possibly larger than Grand Central Station, linking city subways and suburban train lines.

LOMBARDI: It's a very, very important piece because there will be a level of confidence once people come back.

BROWN: It will take lots of confidence and lots of money to rebuild here, billions of dollars, dollars from the government and from private developers like Larry Silverstein.

SILVERSTEIN: It really hurts to look at the skyline today and to remember what we had.

BROWN: At 71, Silverstein says he is willing to dedicate the next decade of his life to rebuilding the Trade Center site into something the next generation can marvel at.

SILVERSTEIN: One of the things I find myself thinking about constantly is how to replace what was there.

BROWN: When 16 ACRES continues, life in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a historic opportunity to basically recreate a community down here and to get it right this time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The construction of the World Trade Center dramatically changed Lower Manhattan, not just the site itself but the whole (AUDIO GAP) in restoring city streets cut off by the Trade Center, built on landfill created by the digging of the Trade Center site. It has clear views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty in New York's harbor. And, to the north, an old warehouse district, Tribeca became the in place to live.

MADELINE WILLS, TRIBECA RESIDENT: We moved out here because it was spacious. I mean you could get a warehouse, a loft space of 2,500 square feet and at a very good price at that time.

BROWN: Madeline Wills moved to Tribeca a few blocks from the Trade Center in 1985.

WILLS: Everybody knew each other. There was one dry cleaner. The grocery store was just going in, so it was really sort of like people felt like pioneers.

BROWN: By the year 2000, this was Manhattan's fastest growing family neighborhood, half the residents walking to work in the financial district. The tens of thousands of Lower Manhattan residents hoped rebuilding the Trade Center site will mean rebuilding their community, reviving small businesses, stores and restaurants, adding cultural destinations that will enhance the quality of life, and restoring city streets cut off by the Trade Center.

GOLDBERGER: The Trade Center was built on what became known as a super block, an enormous, enormous area where all the streets disappeared and it was just one platform of concrete. We don't really believe that's the best way to build cities anymore, and putting back some of the streets has become a big priority for a lot of people.

WILLS: And, this is my bedroom.

BROWN: People like Wills, who chairs the local community board, the attack was right in her back yard.

WILLS: When you looked outside, behind the brick building was 7 World Trade Center.

BROWN: She heard and saw planes hitting the Twin Towers right after dropping off her eight-year-old son at school.

WILLS: It was quite astounding to see a plane that low, a large plane that low; and, I just followed it right into the World Trade Center, which was three blocks from here.

BROWN: After the second plane struck, Wills pulled her son out of school. They were safely inside their apartment when the towers fell. Streets were blocked for three months. Neighbors moved out.

WILLS: My girlfriend lived in this building. She ran out with her kids in their pajamas, ran north and never came back. Her brother was killed at Cantor Fitzgerald.

BROWN: Twenty percent of Lower Manhattan's residents left, though 90 percent of the apartments are now occupied again.

WILLS: Until indoor spaces were cleaned, they didn't want to return to their homes.

BROWN: Wills found herself with a seat at a very important table, the only resident among the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Board, the agency created to oversee the rebuilding. It's giving out millions of dollars in rent and mortgage subsidies to lure people back. Wills also lobbies politicians to steer more aid to the community.

WILLS: First we go to the World Trade Center site, you know the ones that have been hanging on.

BROWN: Downtown resident Julie Minnen (ph) founded Wall Street Rising to boost these businesses, distributing thousands of discount cards to shoppers.

JULIE MINNEN, WALL STREET RISING: We've lost 100,000 jobs down here representing one-third of the customer base, so it's been very difficult for these small businesses to rebound when they simply do not have the foot traffic that they need.

BROWN: Minnen knows firsthand. Her restaurant across the street from the stock exchange took a nosedive.

MINNEN: I had to let about half of my staff go, and I'll never forget the day we decided to reopen, I had three customers for lunch when I normally would have 150.

BROWN: Not only do residents want downtown to bounce back, they want more places to go, places to eat and shop seven days a week. The vast retail space at the Trade Center catered primarily to nine-to- five office workers.

MINNEN: In essence, it was a large suburban mall and while that was very profitable for the retailers there, it was not great for the community. I'd like to see that retail be at street level as opposed to being underground.

BROWN: But that's all a long way off. Throughout Lower Manhattan in neighborhoods like Chinatown, businesses are off by an average of 30 percent. Dozens of restaurants and small retail stores have already gone broke. One jeans store displayed a reminder frozen in time of why everything must go. This shoe repair shop closed up after 20 years in business. The sign in the window says it all.

MINNEN: We want people to come back down, not just to look at the site but to spend some money to say look, I'm a New Yorker. I'm a U.S. citizen. I'm going to help you guys rebuild. The best way you can help us rebuild is to spend some money down here.

BROWN: Up next on CNN PRESENTS, the leaders who will decide the future of Ground Zero.

LOU TOMSON, PRESIDENT, LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORP.: What we create together will be a testament to the principle that came under attack on September 11, democracy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK: We have to rebuild New York, not just for New York's sake but for the whole country.

PATAKI: It will be stronger, better, more attractive than it was on the morning of September 11. BROWN: New York Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg oversea the agency that has the most to say about the fate of these 16 acres.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lower Manhattan Development.

BROWN: The LMDC has offices overlooking the Trade Center site.

TOMSON: One of our missions now is to have the world come to grips with reality.

BROWN: Lou Tomson runs its day-to-day operations, managing a staff that was quickly put together and responding to often complicated and conflicting public expectations.

TOMSON: You shouldn't be in government if you're afraid of debating.

BROWN: Tomson sees the whole project as a tribute to the victims.

TOMSON: We want people to understand when they can expect results from us.

BROWN: He sees his job as giving everyone a fair hearing.

TOMSON: Democracy is messy. It's a messy process.

BROWN (on camera): Because the majority of people are never going to agree on this?

TOMSON: No and at some point we have to leave.

BROWN (voice over): Which means, telling the public that certain popular ideas are simply impractical.

TOMSON: If you're going to put buildings on that site, build one of the seven modern wonders of the world. To rebuild two 110-story towers, people have come to our hearings and say they wanted that, but so far not a lot of people have said they would occupy that.

BROWN: Seven months after the tragedy, the LMDC unveiled its principles for the rapid revitalization of downtown.

ALEXANDER GARVIN, VICE PRESIDENT, LMDC: Develop Lower Manhattan as a diverse, mixed-use magnet for the arts, culture, tourism, education, and recreation, complemented with residential, commercial, retail, and neighborhood amenities.

BROWN: The LMDC and the site owners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, hired the architectural firm best known for renovating Grand Central Station, to design six preliminary site plans.

JOHN BELLE: In the end, the client really is the public.

BROWN: The firm had only two months to prepare its ideas. The governor advised them and he made promises to the families.

PATAKI: We will never build where the towers stood. I view it very much like places such as Gettysburg. This site is a site that is a resting place for thousands of very brave people who died in a war they didn't even know existed.

BELLE: This is an important moment for our city.

BROWN: With much fanfare, the LMDC and the Port Authority unveiled the six proposals. Each reserved open space for a memorial park and each replaced all 11 million square feet of destroyed office space.

BROWN (on camera): The Port Authority would like to see if not every square foot, very nearly every square foot that existed before commercial space to exist again.

GARGANO: Yes, it is a revenue stream that allows the Port Authority to build and improve transportation systems in the region.

BROWN: The public did not buy into that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to think creatively about other ways of generating revenue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the way to bring the density down is to bring the amount of residential redevelopment up.

BROWN: More than 4,000 people filled the convention center and gave the planners feedback, which was mostly negative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Memorial Garden is back at about 52 for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want this to be a residential neighborhood? Do you want it to be a big tourist site or do you want it to be some cultural neighborhood?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the above.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is the proper place for a museum devoted to the whole history of New York City.

BROWN: Too much clutter, not enough variety they said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are even less of us that appreciates the triangle as the setting.

BROWN: Too much commercial space, not enough space for memorial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I want to share it with people shopping, commuting, and working?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is green space that is part of the memorial, and what is green space that is part of plain active or public space?

BROWN: Too little imagination they said, not enough skyline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In some of the plans, there were only singular tall buildings as opposed to a pair. I'm particularly interested in their being a pair.

BROWN: After the public dressing down, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) regrouped. The most popular idea survived, a promenade along the western edge of the site connecting the World Trade Center Memorial with the landmarks nearby.

TOMSON: The difficulty of the responsibility that we have is sort of like serving dinner in some respect to people who don't like the meal you produce. You get some clues as to what the meal is they'd like and then you go back to the kitchen and come up with a new meal.

GOLDBERGER: I don't believe that great urban planning is a referendum. In some ways the process has been so inclusive as to almost have this multiplicity of voices cancel each other out and there is no really strong visionary voice being heard.

BROWN: The LMDC invited design firms worldwide to submit new proposals. It will hire five teams to help create three new site plans by the end of 2002.

PATAKI: I don't want a plan. I want a vision. I think we have to seize the moment and the opportunity, not just to rebuild those 16 acres, but to see how that site fits into all of Lower Manhattan.

BROWN: Later on CNN PRESENTS, visions for Ground Zero from CNN viewers. They might surprise you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: It was hard to imagine such destruction but for many of us it is easy to imagine a rebirth.

PATAKI: There are probably 250 million American who, if they close their eyes, can conceptualize what should be at that site.

GOLDBERGER: There is in this horrendous and awful thing the greatest opportunity at urban design we've had in our lifetimes.

BROWN: The design and construction will take years. A fence listing the victims' names and describing the site's history will invite the public to watch every phase. This will disrupt a neighborhood which is still recovering.

WILLS: If you stay here, you better know that it means that you're going to have construction. You have to be able to live with it.

BROWN: Viable Trade Center businesses have relocated. Morgan Stanley, the largest Trade Center tenant moved 4,000 jobs to other parts of Manhattan. Law firms and insurance companies have moved uptown, or in some cases out of town. So who will move back into the new skyscrapers someday completed at Ground Zero?

SILVERSTEIN: The first of those buildings won't be available for occupancy until 2008 and thereafter, 2010, 2011, 2012. A conventional expansion that we've always experience in New York will simply absorb the space.

BROWN: Office towers may not be an object of our greatest passions but a memorial is. We want this memorial to be so many things, a source of education, a place of reflection, and above all of remembrance.

IKEN: We can't recreate what was lost on 9/11. We can not try to put exactly what was lost and then squeeze a memorial onto the site.

BROWN: An international design competition for the memorial is in the works. Will the result be as moving as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, as personal as Oklahoma City's terrorism marker? Will a Ground Zero monument be as architecturally distinct as the Eiffel Tower? A winning Trade Center memorial design is to be chose by the second anniversary of the attack, relatively quickly as memorials go.

BROWN (on camera): Everybody says let's do it now. Let's do an orderly process but let's do it now. Healthy?

GOLDBERGER: I think the impulse to do something is probably healthy but the reality is it takes a long time to absorb this and to reflect on its meaning and to do the right thing with a piece of the city that has been wrenched apart this way is not something that we can replace in a couple of months. We're not just talking about a couple of buildings. We're talking about what kind of a city do we want for the 21st Century?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: What happens to those 16 acres in Lower Manhattan isn't just of interest to the people of New York or even the United States it's also of great interest to people around the world. We've been asking viewers to give us their ideas on what should be done at Ground Zero, and over the last month or so we've received thousands of proposals. Here are a few of them.

This one comes from Ken Demmerbag (ph) of New York. It features four towers on each corner of a memorial park, and at the center a rotating globe rising out of an artificial lake.

We received a couple of proposals echoing this design by New York's Jason Freeney (ph). It calls for a wire frame outline of the Twin Towers as they stood before 9/11. The entire site apparently would be a memorial.

And this from Mark Miller in Portland, Maine, a unique design, large tablets would encircle this plaza in honor of those who died on September 11. This crying tower concept comes from Isaac Epp (ph) in Alameda, California. It features a waterfall meant to symbolize the tears shed after the terrorist attack.

And from Rodrigo Moreno (ph) in Mexico, a three-building design with a two-story high circular memorial in the middle. If you'd like to submit a proposal or just take a look at those that have been sent in already, log onto cnn.com/yourproposals. That last part is all one word. And that's this edition of CNN PRESENTS.

I'm Aaron Brown. We'll see you next week.

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