Guest Editorial

From today's New York Post:

It was three years ago today that firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino Jr. perished in a blaze at the 9/11-scarred Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St.They had been trapped by a blocked stairwell on the 14th floor of the wrecked building.The lack of an FDNY fire-fighting plan and negligent inspections that failed to identify a damaged water-delivering standpipe contributed to the tragedy -- which also injured more than 100 other firefighters.The building never should have been standing in the first place. Nearly six years after 9/11, a full 26 of the original 41 floors were intact, thanks largely to incompetence on the part of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.The fire should have spurred efforts to demolish the building, which was already a major hazard. (Four months before the fire, a 22-foot pipe fell off the 35th floor and damaged a local firehouse.)Instead, the building was held hostage by the Environmental Protection Agency, which stopped demolition for nearly 2 years.Given the Deutsche Bank's key location in the Ground Zero area, that decision also effectively slowed the broader Downtown reconstruction.Finally, last November, the EPA declared the building "clean."The LMDC now says demolition will be completed by year's end.Well, if you can't believe the LMDC, who can you believe?

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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