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Petition to Save Winter Garden Staircase Gathers 1,200 Signatures in Two Weeks

By Julie Shapiro | March 23, 2011 11:05am
The 40 marble steps now serve as a community gathering place and often host free music and theater performances.
The 40 marble steps now serve as a community gathering place and often host free music and theater performances.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

BATTERY PARK CITY — A petition to save the Winter Garden staircase in Battery Park City has gathered 1,265 signatures in just more than two weeks, residents announced Tuesday.

"It's not just Battery Park City residents," said Justine Cuccia, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1997. "It's TriBeCa, it's all of Manhattan — we're getting emails from all over the world."

Brookfield Properties, owner of the World Financial Center, announced plans last year to demolish the marble staircase to make way for a new pedestrian passageway to the World Trade Center.

Many local residents and workers balked at the proposal, because they see the stairs — which were destroyed on 9/11 and painstakingly rebuilt one year later — as a sign of healing and recovery.

"Having a piece of what was there before is important," Cuccia said. "It reminds us of our innocence."

Cuccia and other residents have been gathering signatures in the neighborhood's apartment buildings and spreading the word to a larger audience on Facebook. They got 130 signatures just from the Hallmark retirement home, a few blocks from the World Financial Center, Cuccia said.

Cuccia plans to present the petition to the Battery Park City Authority, which is doing an independent analysis of whether the staircase must be demolished, as Brookfield claims, to ensure safe traffic flow of pedestrians.

Brookfield has defended their plans and hopes to start construction as soon as this year.

"Brookfield is not doing this out of some evil motivation," Lawrence Graham, a Brookfield vice president said at a Community Board 1 meeting in early March. "We built [the staircase], and we rebuilt it [after 9/11]. The steps are very emotional to us as well."

For more information on the petition, email savethestairs@gmail.com or visit the group's Facebook page.