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Security Concerns Delay WTC Tower

The Freedom Tower to be built on the former World Trade Center site must be redesigned to address security concerns raised by the police department, Gov. George Pataki said Wednesday following a meeting with the mayor and other officials.

"We believe that a building that meets the NYPD standards can be built consistent with (architect) Daniel Libeskind's master site plan," Pataki said in a statement.

The meeting between Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, city police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and other officials was sparked by a security assessment the police department provided last month.

The New York Times reported Sunday that because of the assessment, Silverstein has proposed seeking public financing — possibly hundreds of millions of dollars — to address security concerns.

Redevelopment officials have said the completion of the 1,776-foot tower, scheduled for 2009, would be delayed by up to a year to address the security issues.

The tower to be built on the former World Trade Center site is intended to be both a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and a critical link in the economy of New York City and state, as was its predecessor. It would be the tallest tower in the world.

Its cornerstone was laid July 4, 2004, but the police department's assessment forced the architects to rethink elements of the structure — including its location on the northwest side of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, which is owned by the Port Authority.

Police have declined to talk specifically about their concerns over safety, citing security reasons.

A preliminary design intended to address the security concerns will be released in the next several weeks, said Kevin Rampe, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. president who is leaving at the end of the month.

On Monday, the mayor had said safety concerns needed to be addressed as lower Manhattan's redevelopment continues.

"In 1993, there was a bombing at the World Trade Center, and we did not learn our lesson, and we paid for that with close to 3,000 lives," Bloomberg said then.

"This is a building, particularly the Freedom Tower, that is built to be a symbol, and symbols are great if you are encouraged by the cause, and they are potentially a target by people that hate the cause," Bloomberg said.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, who had publicly complained Tuesday of "inertia" slowing the rebuilding process, on Wednesday praised the governor and mayor for moving "quickly and decisively." He also called for officials to "move full speed ahead" on other revitalization projects.

Officials say the complications with the Freedom Tower will not delay plans for a new performing arts center, set for 2009 or 2010, and the World Trade Center Memorial and new PATH commuter train station, both set for 2009.

By Karen Matthews