Controversy Continues To Surround Memorial At World Trade Center Site
The World Trade Center site has once again found itself mired in controversy as construction on the Sept. 11th museum has been stalled for almost a year. Amid ongoing political squabbles, some are calling for a federal takeover. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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For a moment last September, with the opening of the Sept. 11th Memorial, it seemed things were finally on track at the World Trade Center site.
But then, a funding dispute halted work on the 9/11 museum, which is just one sign of an ongoing political power struggle. It's a struggle that pits Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, against the Port Authority, which owns the site and is jointly controlled by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Now, some 9/11 families want the National Park Service to take over.
“I believe that the administration - the Bloomberg administration - and the current regime at the memorial foundation has just been a proven failure,” said Jim McCaffrey, who lost his brother-in-law on Sept. 11.
Inside City Hall’s Errol Louis moderated a sound-off about control of the September 11th Memorial and Museum with Debra Burlingame, whose brother was a pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 and Jim Riches of the organization, 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and World Trade Center victims, who lost his son, a firefighter. Watch the full debate here.
McCaffrey is part of a coalition of families with a long list of grievances. They say the memorial is overcommercialized and mismanaged. They allege waste and bloated salaries. And they object to the placement of unidentified remains in a repository at the museum.
But other family members say this view is not representative.
“They’re throwing up straw men," said Charles G. Wolf, who lost his wife on Sept. 11. "They’re throwing up red herrings. They’re bringing up things they know zero about. Do they know anything about creating a museum?”
Wolf and others instead point blame at Christie and Cuomo. The governors, while not seeking a complete takeover, have asked the National Park Service to help fund and manage the memorial. The Port Authority has also sought more oversight, an idea that Bloomberg rejected.
Wolf says the memorial foundation doesn’t need fixing.
“These people know how to do oversight," he said. "The idea of having additional oversight is a ploy. It’s a ploy to get political control.”
Amid all the controversy, there has been a push to de-politicize this year’s anniversary. Elected officials have been barred from having any speaking role at the commemoration ceremony here at the site. As for the 9/11 museum, after originally scheduled to open this September, its completion is now delayed indefinitely."