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More angst over WTC 9/11 memorial plans

Families of the victims may ask Congress to look into land-swap deal

By David Porter
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Families of victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks renewed their criticism of the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site Thursday as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officially approved a memorandum of understanding with the foundation that will operate a museum at the site.

The Port Authority, which owns the land where the Twin Towers once stood, announced an agreement on Sept. 10 with the foundation that controls the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The deal gives the foundation the land for the museum; in exchange, the Port Authority takes over the site of the former Deutsche Bank building.

Family members echoed previous complaints that the multimillion-dollar deal was made without public input.

Sally Regenhard of Yonkers, whose son died on Sept. 11, called the land swap “immoral, unethical and illegal.” She told board members at Thursday’s monthly meeting that she and other family members will push for a congressional investigation into how money has been spent in the redevelopment.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said that the deal doesn’t change terms from an agreement made in 2006.

Regenhard and other family members who spoke Thursday also harshly criticized plans to put unidentified remains of victims underground in the museum, a dispute that is making its way through the courts.

Foye said the placement of the remains was not a decision made by the Port Authority but by other family members.

“We have throughout solicited views from 9/11 family members, and they have differing views,” Foye said. “Given the fact that 84 members of the Port Authority family were included in that group killed on 9/11, those views are taken with great seriousness and respect here, and resonate with all of us.”

It remains unclear how the foundation will cover the projected $60 million needed annually to run the memorial and museum. The museum was due to open for this year’s 11th anniversary but was stalled by the dispute between the foundation and the Port Authority. It might not be ready for next year’s anniversary, foundation head Joseph Daniels told The Associated Press recently.