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Family Member Coalition Press Release

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:44 pm    Post subject: Family Member Coalition Press Release
From Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:00 am to Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:59 am (included)
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Family Member Coalition Press Release
October 26th, 2005

Media Contact: Anthony Gardner, Coalition of 9/11 Families

Alliance of Major 9/11 Family Groups Calls on LMDC to Fulfill Gov. Pataki’s Mandate

New York, N.Y.—October 26, 2005—The alliance of 15 major 9/11 family groups calls upon the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and its chairman, John Whitehead, to move forward with Governor George E. Pataki’s historic mandate that the World Trade Center Memorial and memorial quadrant be solely devoted to honoring the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001 and telling the story of that day and of those who came to our aid, as well as the story of the first attack on the Trade Center in 1993.

It has been one month since the governor took the decisive step of removing the International Freedom Center from the memorial site and called for the memorial quadrant to focus solely on the story of 9/11, yet the LMDC has refused to affirmatively declare that it will abide by the governor’s decision and to announce that the so-called Snohetta building will be reserved only for 9/11 exhibits and programming. Instead, LMDC president Stephan Pryor has revived the misapplied term, “public process,” to describe its closed-door plans, including whether the Snohetta building will be reconfigured in its currently planned location, whether it will be moved to another part of the quadrant, or even built at all.

9/11 families, first responders, survivors, residents, and tens of thousands of Americans have clearly demonstrated their wish-through countless public meetings, rallies, petitions, letters, emails and phone calls-that the LMDC preserve the important history of September 11, undiluted and without distraction, for future generations. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation’s recently commissioned poll clearly illustrates that the nation remains personally touched by the events of that day, believes the memorial must be built and plans to visit it in record numbers.

We urge the LMDC to give the American people what they want, deserve and are contributing to by their tax dollars and private donations: a memorial which honors the lost, tells the true and inspiring history of that day and conveys a message of hope which survives the survivors. We believe that story would fill several Snohetta buildings. Further, we urge the LMDC to turn over all curatorial decisions pertaining to the memorial quadrant to the institution responsible for building, operating and paying for the memorial: the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has recently come forward and declared the previous LMDC decision-making process moot, telling the New York Post that “there is no reason for us to feel obligated to build what we talked about before” if things have changed. While we remain committed to the unmitigated success of the rebuilding effort and the robust economic revival of Lower Manhattan, we believe the mayor has hit on something.

Though the number of commercial tenants, regrettably, remains in question, one thing is certain: pilgrims to the memorial will be coming in droves, upwards of ten million visitors per year according to conservative estimates, leveling out to more than five million per year by 2015. It is counterintuitive to plan for tens of millions of square feet of commercial space in anticipation of hoped-for tenants while sending tens of millions of certain-to-arrive visitors into an underground space that can neither accommodate them or the thousands of artifacts and exhibits that will have to be warehoused, farmed out or circulated to 9/11 memorials all over the globe.

Just as disturbing is the LMDC’s insistence that thousands of visitors per hour can be shuttled underground through one entrance and one exit, all without regard to New York City building and fire codes. We do not understand why the Port Authority, which owns the land at Ground Zero and which holds exemptions and immunities from the city’s legal jurisdiction over such codes, would assert them on these 16 sacred acres, given the fact that the World Trade Center site will continue to be a fertile target for those who would like nothing more than to return to the scene of this mass destruction and inflict more carnage.

We remain eager to join with the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation to engage the public in raising funds for this historic and life-affirming memorial, but we find ourselves stymied by these unanswered questions. Ultimately, the public has a right to know what they are paying for. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation is not yet in a position to tell them.

In keeping with these and other outstanding questions and in light of our continuing obligation on behalf of the public trust to safeguard this historic memorial, we announce today our renewed effort to monitor the progress at Ground Zero through the website, www.takebackthememorial.org.
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