The Tunnel to Towers no longer fits well within BPC

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Update November 6, 2014- As a direct result of BatteryPark.TV action, the Tunnel to Towers group agreed to not have liquor served at the 2015 event.

September 28, 2014- The “Tunnel to Towers” events has been allowed to occupy and shut down all of Vesey Street every year for more than a decade. The event started at a time when Downtown was emptied out by the bombing of the WTC’s, and before numerous residential buildings on North End Avenue were built.

However, over the last several years, Vesey Street and North End Ave have dramatically changed. Large restaurants now occupy the storefronts. People live in 2 River Terrace. The Conrad Hotel has opened.

The Tunnel to Tower event has been allowed to sprawl around and also close down North End Avenue. The events that take place on North End Ave are unessential and greatly impair the ability of the Conrad Hotel to function. The barbecue smoke billows over to the North End Grill restaurants. The noise bothers residents across the street.

Making matters worse, the organizers of the Tunnel Tower act as if they own the place. They were visiting the restaurants ahead of the event this year urging them to not even open on Sunday, which would have meant the loss of $10,000 or more per restaurant.

The restaurants defied the organizers, but their business was way off. The outdoor seating was empty at El Vez and few people from the crowd translated into guests since there was ample food and beer sold on the street.

The residents of Battery Park City are also greatly affected by the complete closure of Vesey Street. The organizers this year set up chain link fences making it impossible to exit the Brookfield Place detour.

However, there is an easy solution to this problem. The esplanade by the marina is capable of hosting events with large stages, and does so several times a year for the Tribeca Film Festival and Jazz Festival. The American Heart Association holds an event larger than the Tunnel to Towers on the esplanade.

The Tunnel to Tower event should be relocated to the esplanade, just like the other events. Or, perhaps an even better solution would be to host the event at the park surrounding the 9/11 memorial. That would be far more fitting.

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3 Responses to The Tunnel to Towers no longer fits well within BPC

  1. kloreece says:

    I make exceptions for this event but the constant drumming on a Sunday morning was excessive especially combined with the apparent need to whoop and holler on Liberty Street which I assume was near the goal line.

  2. marilyn gaull says:

    Some history: the Tunnel to Towers race was never a “fit”–at the start, it was rowdy, invasive, disruptive, starting on Saturday nights when they would have a banquet in the Winter Garden, followed by fireworks in the North Cove close to buildings and residential areas, the blasts resonating throughout the neighborhood, terrifying everyone–many of whom were and are survivors themselves.

    Coming in from SI, the TtoT organizers have no idea what we went through and how edgy we all were and still are. So, we wrote collectively pleading with them not to set off the fireworks. It did no good. They still do it, but not in the North Cove. As firemen, they have no trouble getting a permit.

    Instead of the West Side Highway, they used to run through South End Avenue and did gather on the Esplanade on Sunday mornings, first a motorcycle parade, the usual bands, bagpipes, shouting and cheering, drinking and hanging out for the day. So their being on Vesey Street is a compromise, a solution–a bad one.

    It is a delicate cause–the residents always sympathized and encouraged them to find appropriate ways to commemorate the heroes. But, the back story: from the first meeting that was held to talk about the rebuilding, within months of the 9/11, before many of the residents had even moved back, we encountered inexplicable hostility from the “families,” as if the residents were the enemy, as if they died or were injured protecting or saving us. Serving on the various rebuilding committees turned out to be a bruising experience for the residents.

    I would not advise anyone to take on this group or any of the family groups. You would be shocked to discover how much animosity they still have toward us. I think the best move, one you suggested, is to get Daniels and the rest of them to invite them to conclude where the towers were, around the memorial. Battery Park City is irrelevant to them.

  3. bettyk says:

    I do not relate to the victim mentality of lower Manhattan so perhaps that is why I do not see how Tunnel to Towers is a fit for BPC. It has been over 13 years now and it is time to move on rather than become home to professional fundraising for those who wish to play on the past rather making it a place for the living. It is time for a reality check and some perspective rather than guilt.

    I spent my career working on the rehabilitation of adults with traumatic spinal cord injuries. Despite their significant losses there are no monuments or financial support for them or their families. They were not deemed heroes for surviving nor were they assisted because they were victims. Each just dealt with the grief and sadness that was just as profound as the 9/11 families experienced. Then they silently got on with their lives.

    I worked with people with severe physical disabilities but this did not make me an “angel of mercy’ although that an image that the news likes to apply to health care workers. I hope that I showed compassion and brought some inspiration and hope to my patients and their families but the bottom line is that I loved what I did and I got paid for doing it. Working with these amazing patients and families was wonderful and inspirational to me and my co-workers, not a burden, regardless of how the news typically chooses to present this type of story.

    I understand that some can feel a sentiment not shared with residents as one of their family members died at the Towers, but it is time for them to get on with their lives and I suspect that most have. I deal with crowds when I visit my parents’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery. I am proud of my father’s service to our country but it is important for me to remember that he did not see himself as a hero and to me he was a father, not a hero. More importantly, it is important for all of us with family members buried there to remember that all visitors have the same right to be there and have their own experience and sentiments. When a family member is linked with a well-known site or event we must all be vigilant to insure that their voice(s) are not more important than those who actually live with the decisions.

    It is time to speak without any sense of guilt about what any of us owe to any “Victim of 9/11”. It was sad a sad event, but it has nothing to do with how the residents and visitors should experience today. If every death led to a monument there would be nowhere to live in Europe just monuments. I believe that life is for the living so the time and need for Tunnel to Towers has expired; it needs to end.

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