New York Times Editorial
Date January 21, 2010
Relevant Logs None

Midtown, Three Years Gone

Three years after the devastating explosion that rocked the world and brought New York to its knees, the rebuilding of Midtown Manhattan, and much of the city of New York's infrastructure and economy, has largely taken two paths: communities that have rebuilt themselves using private funds, insurance money and sheer will - and publicly funded efforts that have moved much more slowly.

Federal, state and local governments have struggled to speed up the release of funds and restore infrastructure. None of the 115 "critical priority projects" identified by city officials have been completed, and the issues have only been compounding with the rise of terrorist and vigilante activity within the city since that day in 2006.

The delays have affected the poor the most - those dependent on government assistance to rebuild their lives. While middle- and upper-class neighborhoods in areas outside of the blast zone have largely been rebuilt using private insurance and contacts, but those rendered homeless and destitute from the bomb - roughly 20,000 of them - are still living out of government-funded trailer farms where crime is rampant, or have migrated to outlying boroughs where situations are questionably better.

The devastating fires, structural damage and infrastructure collapse in 2006 delivered an estimated $700 billion worth of damage to the New York City region, making it the worst disaster in U.S. history. Of the $216 billion appropriated by Congress to New York City recovery, $134 billion has been earmarked for long-term rebuilding. But less than half of that has made its way through federal checks and balances to reach municipal projects.

Throughout the city of New York, residents are asking why their government - at every level - hasn't done more to streamline the process and bring more rebuilding dollars to the region. "We're working ourselves close to death," says Scott Cavanaugh, a New York City civic activist. "But we can't move it past further than what we have today. The government needs to step up."

Fund-raising and charitable donations made by New York City's largest rebuilding contributor, the Linderman Group, has backed the ambitious Midtown Reclamation project slated to begin in the spring of 2011, but that project still fails to address several of New York City's more financially devastated boroughs, such as Queens and Staten Island, while changes of residential zoning on Staten Island for "recovery shelters" seems a strange move by the city planning board.

The road to recovery will indeed be a long one, but some New York City residents are wondering: will it be too long?

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