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Trade Center design meet draws low turnout in LIC

The latest design proposals for the World Trade Center site brought mixed reactions from the handful of Queens residents who attended Monday’s public meeting at LaGuardia Community College.

The meeting, hosted by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority, was held simultaneously with meetings in the other boroughs and Long Island and featured a live broadcast of the evening’s main event, a video presentation of the designs and a public comment session at Pace University.

About 25 people came to the Queens meeting, far more than at the other satellite locations but considerably fewer than the packed auditorium in downtown Manhattan.

Part of the reason for the low turnout in Queens may have been the fact that the event had originally been advertised as being held at York College, not LaGuardia.

“My No. 1 concern is the firemen that lost their lives there,” said architectural design consultant Eric Gerdes of Jackson Heights, who questioned the safety of the proposed structures. “How do we put up buildings there that will tell the world we’ve learned not to duplicate the mistakes we made with the Twin Towers?”

The plans varied widely and included such design flourishes as asymmetrical glass towers, reflecting pools, elevated gardens and an amphitheater. All adhered to the protocols set by the LMDC and the Port Authority, which emphasized preservation of the skyline and footprints of the original towers, street and transit connectivity and open space.

Representatives from the two agencies took notes but did not respond to comments made by members of the public at LaGuardia about the nine design plans released Dec. 18.

The new designs came as a result of public criticism that the original designs, released last summer, lacked imagination and sufficient public space.

Some who attended Monday’s meeting echoed those charges.

“I do not see enough space given to memorialize those that perished in those two buildings,” said Dorothy Kominsky of Woodside, adding that the design plans satisfied only “architects and egos.”

When asked to pick a favorite design out of the ones presented, few in the audience expressed enthusiasm for any, with the exception of Tina DeDomenico, a Brewster, N.Y. resident who works at Citicorp Tower in Long Island City.

“I like the fact that it’s expansive, imaginative, and [I like] its use of vertical space,” she said of the design submitted by United Architects, a plan consisting of five connected glass towers.

Mamie Kerr of Kew Gardens Hills, who worked for Verizon at the World Trade Center before her retirement in 1999, lost several co-workers on Sept. 11.

“Nothing can replace the towers,” Kerr said. “I really want them to build them just as they were.”

A separate meeting on the mission statement and program of the planned World Trade Center memorial was to be held Tuesday, also at LaGuardia, and a draft mission statement was scheduled to be presented Thursday evening before Manhattan’s Community Board 1.

The public comment period on the latest designs for the World Trade Center site will end Feb. 2, with a decision on a plan slated to arrive at the end of next month.

Comments can be submitted online at www.renewnyc.org, at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden on West and Vesey streets, or by mail at LMDC Public Comment, One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10006.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com.

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