Group Wants Twin Towers Rebuilt at NYC's Ground Zero

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

Clarification: Changes eighth paragraph to indicate that Margaret Donovan worked in Tower Two of the World Trade Center prior to, but not at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

( - As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, a group of New Yorkers is continuing its protest of the design selected to redevelop the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

Members of the Twin Towers Alliance will gather Sunday in New York City's Central Park to rally for rebuilding the Twin Towers as they stood before 9/11, in spite of the fact that construction is already underway on the Freedom Tower, a single tower that will fill the void left in Lower Manhattan.

The group says on its website that building the Freedom Tower, three additional high-rise buildings and the World Trade Center Memorial "would leave a permanent scar on the face of New York and diminish a legendary city."

Instead, it favors building towers that resemble the originals, but are slightly taller. "Nothing could be more inspiring to our people, or disheartening to our enemies, than Twin Towers," the group said.

But construction on the Freedom Tower began in April 2006. The 1,368-foot tower - which will be 44 feet taller than the original tower only because it will boast a longer spire - is expected to be completed in 2012, and city officials are firmly supporting it.

Margaret Donovan, a graphic designer and organizer for the Twin Towers Alliance, criticized the city for allegedly not paying attention to New Yorkers' wishes for redevelopment designs. She still hopes the group can convince leaders to reject the Freedom Tower in favor of twin towers.

"If people can just understand what the principle of it is, then everything else falls into place," Donovan told Cybercast News Service. "Of course we can change it."

Donovan, who worked in Tower Two the year before the attacks, said it is a "moral imperative" to "make sure that Osama bin Laden and his followers all over the world do not look at a television set and see either a blank hole and take great pride in what they were able to inflict ... or to look at something that is totally different than what it was the day before they flew into those buildings."

The best way to defy terrorists, Donovan said, is to build the same towers.

One design proposed by the Twin Towers II Memorial Foundation and supported by real estate mogul Donald Trump features two high-rises that resemble the originals but are one floor taller. Its proposal uses the "footprints" left by the original towers as the framework for memorials to the deceased, Donovan said.

"We can still have the World Trade Center we deserve," she added. "It's not wishful thinking. It's just common sense, and it's not too late."

But New York officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, strongly support the Freedom Tower design.

"For generations to come, the Freedom Tower will be a symbol of New Yorkers' resolve and a powerful beacon of freedom to people around the world," Bloomberg said in a news release issued by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the group in charge of redeveloping Ground Zero.

Larry Silverstein, the real estate investor who holds the leases to the office space in the World Trade Center, has said in news releases that the Freedom Tower design "speaks to the government and private sector's deep and abiding commitment to rebuild New York City to the highest architectural, environmental and safety standards."

Silverstein said he is "confident that when our work is done, we will be in a position to say we have done the best job possible, and that one hundred years from now, our children's children will look back and say we made them proud."

But Donovan argued that while the new design speaks to the private sector's goals for the area, it doesn't represent what the people who experienced 9/11 want. She said most New Yorkers want twin towers.

Donovan acknowledged that evidence for the public's preference for twin towers is "mainly anecdotal," a flaw she credits to the LMDC for not scientifically polling the public before accepting a design.

John Delibero, a spokesman for the LMDC, told Cybercast News Service that there were "many community outreach plans going on. There was a lot of stuff sponsored in 2002 and 2003 by the LMDC for public opinion on what should be done with the site."

Delibero did not say if the group had commissioned scientific polls to weigh public opinion. He referred further questions to the Silverstein's office. A spokesman for Silverstein Properties did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Donovan said she "would bet my life on the fact that if everybody could weigh in, you'd find that many more people, whether they thought they [the original towers] were attractive or they thought they weren't attractive, they loved them. They [the originals] were part of our identity."

"This is particular issue is a little bit too significant and meaningful to too many people for us to stand for it," she concluded.

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