Cleanup Nears an End
'Final day' ceremony planned for families

By Graham Rayman and Dan Janison
STAFF WRITERS; Staff writer Sean Gardiner contributed to this story.

May 15, 2002

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city may announce today the anticipated final day of debris removal at Ground Zero, but he stressed that notifying the families of those killed on Sept. 11 must come first.

"We're within striking distance of doing something that I don't think anybody would have thought that we would," Bloomberg said, noting the recovery will be completed about three months ahead of schedule.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is slated to take over control of the site from the city's Department of Design and Construction and Bovis Lend Lease, the construction management company, sometime between June 1 and June 15, said Paul Ashlin, the project manager for Bovis.

The city is also planning a "final day" ceremony, which will likely involve thousands of relatives of those lost on Sept. 11 and workers who labored at the site over the past eight months.

Jennie Farrell of the family group Give Your Voice said yesterday that she has not been notified of the date. She said a meeting is scheduled tomorrow with officials from the city's Office of Emergency Management to set a date for the ceremony and work out final details.

"We sent out an e-mail, and just from the response we got to that alone, we estimate that over 1,000 people will be coming," she said.

Last week, sources said that the closing date for Ground Zero will likely be June 2, but as one official said this week, the date had not been set.

At Ground Zero yesterday, work crews chipped away at a pile of debris next to the footprint of the North Tower. In a familiar scene, loads were spread on the ground and lines of firefighters in tan overalls and helmets sifted the material with rakes.

On the spot once occupied by 4 World Trade Center, machines scooped dirt and debris and loaded it into trucks. Firefighters were still at work in that area as well. Work involving the tie-backs, repair of a section of the bathtub wall and demolition of the remaining structures of 5 and 6 World Trade Center could extend into June.

As of yesterday, the city Fire Department listed confirmed recoveries of 824 civilians and 233 uniformed personnel, including 189 firefighters. The number of recoveries has slowed over the past two weeks, the Fire Department said.

Staff writer Sean Gardiner contributed to this story.