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Raising Lower Manhattan

Six models for redeveloping and memorializing the World Trade Center site were unveiled this week, but they're officially just "a starting point for dialogue." Other options still are possible. Given the deep feelings surrounding this project, that's probably the best approach.

Many viewpoints are still to be heard, it won't be easy to please everyone in rebuilding the 16-acre site. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversee the work, have tried to balance a need for 1) a memorial; 2) commercial space; 3) housing, cultural, and community buildings.

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Of course, it's the quality, and not just the quantity, of the space for each of those needs that's vital. The Vietnam memorials in Washington and New York pack a punch in a small spaces. So, too, can a memorial to the 2,813 individuals lost there Sept. 11.

To express Manhattan's resilience, several high rises are proposed, although nothing on the scale of the original twin towers. Restoring most, if not all, of the lost office space is considered an economic necessity by the agencies. Also, contracts in effect before Sept. 11 require such rebuilding.

That commercial imperative is sure to clash with the desire to expand space for a memorial. For many relatives and friends of those who lost their lives there, this remains sacred ground. They'll argue that the space where the two towers stood, their "footprints," should be kept open.

The best memorial will be one in which New Yorkers come together to endorse a final plan, and not engage in the very anger, even hate, that characterized the attack on their city.