The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation today announced that it will join the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York and AmericaSpeaks in cooperation with other major civic organizations, to convene a citizens summit to discuss proposals to rebuild lower Manhattan. This modern town meeting will feature facilitated roundtable discussions that are supported by the latest in networked computer technology and will provide significant, broad-based public input representing a broad spectrum of demographic and regional perspectives. The summit, entitled “Listening to the City II”, is scheduled to take place in July at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and is expected to draw an estimated 5,000 people.
LMDC Chairman John Whitehead said, “As an integral part of our rebuilding and revitalizing plans, the LMDC has been gathering valuable input for the past several months from the many constituencies involved with lower Manhattan. This unique forum will be especially useful in reaching out to gain the views of an additional 5,000 participants in a town hall setting."
The summit represents the expansion of an initial public conversation “Listening to the City”, which took place in February. At that event, more than 600 concerned citizens, civic leaders and public officials came together to express their thoughts on the rebuilding of lower Manhattan and the creation of a fitting memorial. The shared vision articulated during this event was communicated to decision makers through various channels. The insights and ideas that emerged also helped shape the Principles and Preliminary Blueprint for the Future of Lower Manhattan issued by the LMDC earlier this month.
As was done in February, special efforts will be made to again reach out to the many individual constituencies that were affected by the World Trade Center attacks. Participants will represent survivors and families of victims, residents and workers, emergency and rescue workers, business and property owners, citizens and civic leaders, and citizens from the five boroughs, as well as suburban New York and New Jersey. They will also reflect age, income, ethnic, racial, geographic and gender diversity. LMDC’s Advisory Councils, who have and will continue to provide valuable input on the process of remembering, rebuilding and revitalizing Lower Manhattan, will also be invited to participate in the event.
The Civic Alliance and other major civic organizations will develop the content for the event out of the work of LMDC’s planning group and partners including the Empire State Development Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation, the Port Authority and the MTA will also be asked to participate in this historic event. AmericaSpeaks, a nationally-recognized, nonprofit and non-partisan organization dedicated to engaging citizen voices in governance will organize, manage and facilitate the summit.
LMDC President Lou Tomson said, “Listening to the City II will provide LMDC and other decision-makers with concrete information about how a large, representative group of citizens views these important issues. We are committed to making decisions based on an inclusive and open public process, as set forth in our Principles. Our partnership with the Civic Alliance and other key groups will build trust and cooperation by reaching out and listening to all the voices in the region who share an interest in the process of creating an appropriate memorial and rebuilding Lower Manhattan.”
Regional Plan Association President and Convener of the Civic Alliance Bob Yaro said, “We are very pleased to see LMDC committing itself to reaching out to the general public. Entering into this partnership ensures the production of a singular event – one that allows many different voices to participate in the process.”
President and Founder of AmericaSpeaks Carolyn Lukensmeyer said, “AmericaSpeaks integrates face-to-face dialogues, the use of technology and in-person facilitation to create a truly democratic process. Citizens and decision-makers will be able to engage in meaningful dialogue about the creation of the memorial and the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.”
Arthur Fried, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in New York City Governance at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service said, “The Listening to the City Series is exciting not only because it makes a significant contribution to the rebuilding effort, but also because it introduces a new method for bringing rich public input into the large-scale planning process in New York City.”
The event will be funded by the LMDC, the foundation community – led by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund – and the private sector.
LMDC’s contribution is part of a $2 billion grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’ s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. LMDC is also working with HUD in developing an action plan for the $2 billion grant that will be the largest single grant in the 27-year history of the CDBG program.
Earlier this year, HUD approved an additional $700 million to help businesses located in Lower Manhattan recover from the terrorist attacks of September 11. Those funds are offering assistance to small businesses and nonprofits for economic loss as well as helping the City to retain and attract businesses.
About the Event Organizers
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is a joint State-City corporation formed by the Governor and Mayor to oversee the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan. The LMDC is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors – eight appointed by the Governor, eight appointed by the Mayor – and is chaired by John C. Whitehead. To assist in its mission, the Corporation has formed several Advisory Councils and a general Advisory Committee comprised of federal, state and city elected officials, business and civic leaders to represent the interests of various constituencies affected by the September 11th attacks.
The Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York is a coalition of more than 100 leading NYC academic institutions and civic, labor, business and environmental groups. The Alliance will work closely with the Empire State Development Corporation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the City of New York to create a bold vision for a revitalized downtown. [A list of members is available at http://www.civic-alliance.org]
Regional Plan Association, an independent metropolitan research and advocacy group, has worked to improve the quality of life in the 31-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area since 1922. RPA recommends policy initiatives and physical and human infrastructure investments and involves the public in considering and shaping its future.
AmericaSpeaks is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization founded to create innovative mechanisms through which citizens can express their voices on public policy priorities. The Washington, DC-based group developed the “electronic town meeting” process and has conducted similar large-scale civic forums around the country, including the successful Pew Charitable Trust’s Americans Discuss Social Security dialogue series in 1997 and 1998.
The NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service was established in 1938 and offers advanced programs leading to the professional degrees of Master of Public Administration, Master of Urban Planning, Master of