Downtown Digest, Week of Sept. 12

Zadroga adds cancer to list of World Trade Center related health conditions

On Wed., Sept. 12, the federal government finally added 50 forms of cancer to the list of treatable illnesses covered by the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act.

Following a proposal by Dr. John Howard, the law’s health administrator, back in June, cancers of the colon and liver — as well as select respiratory and blood forms of the disease — will be added to the list of federally subsidized World Trade Center-related health conditions.

Howard said the decision was largely influenced by the recommendations of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (S.T.A.C.), a group of health experts and Downtown advocates that advised that the treatment of the cancers be federally funded. The S.T.A.C.’s recommendation was solicited by Howard after he received a petition from the New York Congressional delegation supporting the addition of cancer to the Zadroga Act last fall.

The proposal, which was initially vetoed due to “insufficient medical evidence” in July 2011, called for nationally subsidized coverage for cancer-stricken Downtown residents, workers, and students. First responders from outside the area who inhaled Ground Zero toxins during the clean-up effort will also be provided for.

The original list of W.T.C.-related health conditions, established in 2010, did not include cancers but allowed for other health conditions to be added over time.

In a month, W.T.C. health program members can begin the process of certifying their cancers as W.T.C.-related health conditions, and non-members can find information about applying to the program on its website. Current members should contact their current Clinical Center of Excellence (C.C.E.) to begin the certification process. If you do not know which C.C.E. you attend or are not currently enrolled in the W.T.C. Health Program and believe you may be eligible, visit or call 1-888-982-4748 for information on how to apply.

B.P.C.A. president steps down to head global investigating firm

Battery Park City Authority president Gayle Horwitz is leaving her post to take a job as chief operating officer of Nardello & Co., an international private investigating firm, according to various media reports.

Horwitz wasn’t immediately available for an interview. Jeff Galloway, chair of Community Board 1′s Planning Committee, said she called him shortly before noon on Wed., Sept. 12 to notify him of her resignation effective Mon., Oct. 1. Galloway said Horwitz told him she “didn’t know” if the B.P.C.A. had chosen a new president.

 Horwitz came under fire in November, 2011 for abruptly firing 19 employees without notice.  She told the Downtown Express at the time that “the terminations took place in accordance with all laws,” and that “the personnel changes were by no means an easy task; however it is time to move on and focus on the needs of Battery Park City.”

 The Authority has recently been embroiled in a new controversy as a result of the opening of the Battery Park Community Center being  delayed ten months — an issue that Horwitz said she hoped to fix by working with Asphalt Green, the park’s operator. The B.P.C.A. recently announced that they have hired attorney and former Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro, of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, to help resolve the contract dispute.

Fritz Koenig sphere’s location still in question

On Thurs., Sept. 7, volunteer maintenance workers rallied together in Battery Park to clean the infamous Koening sphere, one of the only intact artifacts from the former World Trade Center. Cleaning the sphere was long overdue, judging by the condition the volunteer crew found it in, according to 9/11 family member and activist Michael Burke, who organized the impromptu effort.

Burke, whose firefighter brother Captain William Burke of Engine 21 died on 9/11, has been spearheading a campaign to “save” the sphere such that it is returned to the W.T.C. and kept in public display in the interim. His online petition toward the cause has garnered 7,200 signatures.

Sept. 11 family members wish to see the sphere at the new W.T.C. because it is a “positive symbol of survival,” according to Burke. “It’s a hallowed, sacred object, forgotten and neglected, and it’s covered in bird crap,” he said. “It’s symptomatic of the situation, which is that it has been neglected.”

Indeed, pigeon poop is the least of the problem. The 22.5-ton sphere, which has sat in Battery Park since 2002, is supposed to be moved as the result of upcoming and ongoing park renovations. Yet where the sphere will end up — temporarily and permanently — is still an unknown. Earlier this year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the artifact, announced tentative plans to move the sphere to a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In May, National Sept. 11 Memorial President Joe Daniels vetoed the idea of installing the sphere on the Memorial Plaza, asserting that the plaza’s design is already complete. However, at this year’s 9/11 anniversary ceremony on the plaza, Daniels reportedly told Burke he would be all for the sphere’s relocation to the base of the future One W.T.C. or elsewhere on the site.

“I told [Daniels] that, while my first choice was on the memorial site, north of the visitor’s center would work for me and, I believe, all the supporters,” said Burke.


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