Updated 09/10/2012 11:52 PM
Governor, Mayor Reach Sudden Deal To Unblock Progress On 9/11 Museum
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Almost a year after construction on the National September 11 Museum ground to a halt because of a funding dispute, officials suddenly announced Monday night a deal allowing construction to move forward.
The National September 11 Memorial, with its twin reflecting pools, opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
But the below-ground 9/11 museum has been a different story: it was supposed to open this September, but a disagreement over costs had brought construction to a standstill.
On Monday night, just hours before New York marks the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a deal that will allow construction on the museum to move forward.
Bloomberg is head of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation; Cuomo, meanwhile, partly controls the Port Authority, which owns the World Trade Center site.
Under the deal, the Port Authority's financial obligation would be reduced by about $150 million, including an upfront $17 million payment from the Memorial Foundation.
The deal also gives the governor significantly more oversight over the memorial, including a representative on a new task force that will oversee all site activities.
The governor will also have a say in the annual commemoration ceremony, which up until now had been essentially controlled by the mayor.
"We are going to complete the museum, which will give us the chance to tell the story of what really happened there in a moving and thoughtful way," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The governor, meanwhile, noted no additional public funds will be spent to complete the memorial and museum.
“We want it done. We also have to do it in a way that is financially feasible, and the Port Authority is not rolling in money, as you know. And we just did a toll increase, and I don’t want to do another one,” Governor Cuomo said on WGDJ-AM on Monday.
The museum is very meaningful to Monica Iken, who lost her husband Michael on the 84th floor of Tower Two on September 11, 2001. Afterward, she founded a non-profit devoted to building a legacy out of the events surrounding September 11th.
"Very pleased right now to hear at least they're going to start construction," Iken said. "I don't have remains, even now, 11 years later. His final resting place is that site."
Terms of the deal will now go to the Port Authority board for approval September 20. If approved, construction would then move forward almost immediately.