To the editor:
          How long you can hold your breath was the insidious issue hovering in the air of a packed Town Hall Meeting of lower Manhattan residents and leaders in the community room of the Southbridge Towers Monday evening. The Howard Hughes Corp. wants to build a high rise at 250 Water Street.
          That plan was overshadowed by the revelation by Hughes’ engineers who found poisonous mercury contamination under the lot’s concrete slab from an early thermometer manufacturer.  The Hughes engineer offered assurances their “containment, removal, remediation ” would take care of that threat and avoided the unknown consequences of jack hammering to remove the concrete slab now covering the toxic mercury. With the area’s ever gusty air around the surrounding community schools, Southbridge Towers and lower Manhattan, this could become a smaller 911 contamination disaster.
           Although the Hughes engineer tried to minimize the danger, the open square block of land can become a clear and present threat. The only sane solution is prevention, to totally reject a profit hungry company’s proposal that has ignored this terrible threat to fatten their bottom line at the public’s extreme risk by applying for NY State approval of their plan whose laws would give them total protective shelter from liability with an added tax credit.
        When the  Hughes representative who was  present was asked to comment about meeting’s content, the reply was, “I am here as an observer.”
          All  New Yorkers should protest to Governor Cuomo and their local representatives about this latest attempt to deliberately subvert the original historical building code while opening a mercury Pandora’s box.
                                                                                Sy Schleimer

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