Borough President and Council Member Want City Agencies to Document Outreach to Former Lower Manhattan Students at Risk of September 11 Illnesses
On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Charles and Uriah Frederick walked out of Gateway Plaza.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and City Council member Christopher Marte are partnering to hold a pair of City agencies accountable for outreach to people who were students, teachers, or staff members at schools near the World Trade Center during the 2001-2002 school year.
A bill sponsored by the two officials would require the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) to report to the Council about efforts to contact people who may have been affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as a result of having studied or worked in Lower Manhattan schools on that day, or in the weeks and months that followed.
Mr. Levine said, “there is one group of survivors that has consistently gotten too little attention—the students, teachers, and staff who were at schools near Ground Zero during the months following the attack, a time when the air remained contaminated. For this reason, I have teamed up with Council member Marte, a student at the time himself, to reintroduce a bill that requires DOE, in collaboration with DOH, to provide an official accounting of all the students and school staff who were exposed, and educate them about the services and support available to them through the World Trade Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund. We must do everything in our power to support the education community—and all those harmed—in the worst attack in our nation’s history.”
Mr. Marte said, “I was in school in Lower Manhattan when the teachers brought us up to the roof to watch the second plane hit. It was a surreal and devastating experience, as my father and sister worked nearby. Since then, my own family has experienced health complications due to September 11, and hundreds more people have lost their lives due to related illness. While we often hear of outreach to residents and workers, school staff and children have been left out of these efforts. This bill would take us a step closer to taking care of those who were harmed by the bad decisions our previous administrations made.”
Alice Hom, now principal of P.S. 124 (the Yung Wing School), was the Assistant Principal of Chinatown’s M.S. 131 in Chinatown in September, 2001. She said, “I was a witness to the horrors of that day and the days that followed. This bill would be critical to help residents, students, and staff who lived and worked around the area during that time, and who may still be there after all these years. Support for the physical and mental health of survivors of that traumatic event continues to be necessary.”
Mr. Marte notes that, “within a week after the attacks on September 11, 2001, students and staff at nearby schools, like P.S. 124, Stuyvesant High School, Murry Bergtraum High School, and others were told that it was safe for everyone to return to school. Since then, overwhelming evidence proves that all of Lower Manhattan was still deeply contaminated, thus exposing residents, workers, and students to toxins that cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, and other negative health effects. The report required by this legislation will bring transparency and justice to a seriously impacted population that’s often left out of September 11 survivor programs and conversations. The report will also help to identify strengths and weaknesses in survivor outreach, and ensure that all students, staff, and teachers have access to the support they deserve.”
This measure follows a 2019 initiative, in which the DOE partnered with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union to identify and locate former New York City public school students who were pupils at Lower Manhattan schools at the time of the attacks, to inform them that their health may be at risk. That project also sought to put these students in touch with the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.
Outreach to other communities of those affected by exposure to environmental toxins as a result of the terrorist attacks of September, 2001—such as first responders and residents—has for years been proactive and aggressive. But there has been very little organized effort thus far to reach the population of onetime students, now grown into adults ranging from as young as 25 to as old as 38, who also might be facing life-threatening illness. In some cases, the long latency periods of diseases associated with World Trade Center contamination can mean that such sickness may only now be showing symptoms, or may not for years to come.
In September 2019, the DOE began mailing out the first of more than 19,000 letters to the last known addresses of students who attended schools such as P.S. 89, I.S. 289, P.S. 234, P.S. 150, and Stuyvesant High School, along with dozens of other elementary, middle, and high schools below Houston Street. (A total of 29 schools are believed to have been exposed to dangerous levels of toxins.)
The logistical challenges associated with such an undertaking are considerable: Most children who were in kindergarten in September 2001 likely graduated college several years ago. Adding to the difficulty is the super-heated Lower Manhattan real estate market in the years since 2001, one effect of which has been that relatively few young people who grew up in the community can afford to rent or buy homes here as adults. But for all the obstacles, the urgency of the campaign is underscored by the fact that young, growing metabolisms are even more vulnerable to some kinds of toxins than adults are.
The UFT also sought to identify and conduct outreach to more than 3,000 current and former teachers who taught at these schools. UFT president Michael Mulgrew said at the time, “students, teachers, community members need to know their rights. If they are sick or become sick, they are entitled to health support and possible compensation. Those benefits are not just for first responders.”
In a separate, but related development, the Borough of Manhattan Community College (located just blocks from the World Trade Center) also began an effort to identify and contact some 20,000 former students and staff who were possibly exposed to harmful pollutants.
These efforts came in reaction to a year-long lobbying effort by the UFT, which sought to persuade the City Council to enact legislation requiring the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to conduct such outreach. To avert being legally compelled to identify and contact former students and teachers nearly two decades after the fact, City Hall agreed to implement the program voluntarily.
The legislation sponsored by Mr. Levine and Mr. Marte would make make mandatory what has, to date, been voluntary compliance by City Hall.
While participation by first responders in the World Trade Center Health Program exceeds 80 percent of their overall population, the much-larger cohort known as survivors (meaning residents, workers, and students who were exposed to dangerous substances) have signed up at rates below five percent of this group’s estimated size of more than 400,000 people.
Former public school students comprise a subset of this second tranche. Little is known thus far about how many of them have registered for the World Trade Center Health Program, although it seems reasonable to infer that their participation rate is lower even than that of the survivor group as a whole.
Top photograph by Robert Simko; second photograph courtesy of the NYPD.
Building a Greener Community
Recognizing the Inevitability of Climate Change Impacts, Battery Park City Action Plan Aims to Make Neighborhood Carbon-Neutral by Mid-Century
The Battery Park City Authority has released its Climate Action Plan, which aims to transition by 2040 to 100 percent of the community’s electric power coming from renewable energy sources, along with a 99 percent reduction in transportation emissions by 2050.
Venus & Jupiter meet, Earth Day, and Dark Sky Week
Fanciful and mythic, timeless and of the moment, this celestial tableau depicts early morning harbinger of summer constellations with planets on the move in late April through early May, 2022. Notice the two unlabeled dots on the lower left of the diagram, above the horizon near the “E” and under the Great Square of Pegasus. The smaller point of light represents planet Jupiter, the larger is Venus. They are approaching each other. Find details below.
Illustration: Judy Isacoff/StarryNight 7
We begin with two weeks of spectacular morning stargazing: refer to the diagram, above. Then, let’s gather around the brilliant evening stars as drawn in the second star chart, below.
Radiant planet Venus appears in the east as if a great star rising in the darkness at daybreak, captivating as the rising Sun but with the advantage of our gazing without the caution to look away from its steady light. Venus and Jupiter appear closer to one another each day. Look as often as possible to see the distance between them shrink. Be present especially on the mornings of April 29 through May 2. Their closest approach occurs April 30 and May 1, a spectacular planetary conjunction not to be seen again until the year 2039.
By month’s end, darkness falls about 9:45pm. Study the star chart for setting winter stars and constellations squeezed in on the bottom right corner, in the southwest to west. Note the Big Dipper at the top of the sky and follow its handle to “arc to Arcturus and speed to Spica.” Golden Arcturus is the second brightest star in Earth’s skies. Blue Spica accompanies kite-shaped Corvus the Crow.
April’s Awareness and Activism for the Heavens and Earth
Open the following resources for ways to be a part of assuring a healthy Earth Day every day, and protecting dark skies for the vitality of all living beings.
The Lower West Side of Manhattan has another stunning public space: On Monday morning, the Hudson River Park Trust debuted the rooftop park at Pier 57, located near 15th and West Streets. The new park offers almost two acres of lawns, gardens and open space, all more than 30 feet above the surface of the Hudson River, affording spectacular views in all directions.
A New Home for a Culture ‘Not Really Allowed to Call This Place Home’
Lower Manhattan’s roster of world-class cultural institutions is poised to grow by one. The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), located on a mid-block parcel between Lafayette and Centre Streets (just north of Canal Street) is undertaking a $100 million-plus expansion that will grow its space more than five-fold, to 68,000 square feet. The centerpiece of thise buildout is a design by acclaimed architect Maya Lin, best known for her groundbreaking 1982 plan for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington, D.C. Ms. Lin says her design for the new MOCA building drew inspiration from “the 4,000-year history of the Chinese puzzle, the tangram,” an ancient geometric dissection game that contains thousands of possible combinations and solutions.
America’s First Synagogue Celebrates Anniversary at Site Where, Centuries Before Liberty’s Lamp, Lower Manhattan Offered Refuge to Persecuted Jews
On April 8, 1730, the seventh day of that year’s Passover, the fledgling Jewish community of New York City consecrated the Mill Street Synagogue, located on what is now South William Street. They called their new temple “Shearith Israel,” which translates literally as, “remnant of Israel.” It was the first Jewish house of worship in North America.
Meet at the Chamber Street Planters for a demonstration and talk led by Alveole on our beehive in Rockefeller Park. Learn about the importance of urban beekeeping and its benefit to sustainability efforts in BPC and throughout the city.
Germany entered World War I on August 1, 1914 when the country declared war on Russia. 11 million German soldiers were mobilized, 100,000 of whom were Jewish. A number of these Jewish soldiers were honored for their service with the Iron Cross. In addition, many German Jews supported the war effort at home along with their neighbors. This service and dedication were soon disregarded, but World War I efforts are an essential part of the German Jewish story. Showcasing artifacts from the Museum’s collection, we will explore these efforts and experiences. Free; suggested $10 donation.
Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢), one of China’s four great classic novels, tells the story of the rise and decline a wealthy imperial Chinese family, and by extension, the rise and decline of the Qing dynasty itself. The novel was adapted as an English-language Opera composed by Bright Sheng with libretto by Sheng and David Henry Hwang, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 2016. Tonight, online, join composer Bright Sheng and Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang to explore the world of their Dream of the Red Chamber which returns to the San Francisco Opera House this June. Sheng and Hwang, in conversation with Ann Chih Lin, Director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, will share what it takes to adapt this rich and complex world to a different medium, and why this story still resonates with readers and viewers alike more than two centuries after it was first written.
On Saturdays and Sundays, visit the exhibitions and the ships of the South Street Seaport Museum for free. At 12 Fulton Street, see “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914,” and at Pier 16, explore the tall ship Wavertree and lightship Ambrose. Free.
Experience Bird’s Eye View, an augmented reality artwork by technology innovator and artist Shuli Sadé. The piece is inspired by relocation and movement along the lower Hudson River through fascinating studies of bird migration and human immigration. The event will feature live music from Maestro Pedro Cortes Flamenco Duo. Technology guides will be on-site to assist visitors in using their smartphones to view the new artwork.
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
$2.00 per notarized signature.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.