By Vicki Rock Daily American
Ground will be broken this summer for the next phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
National Park Service Site Deputy Superintendent Keith Newlin told the Flight 93 Advisory Commission on Saturday that the final documents will be ready for contracting no later than March 19.
This phase will include the visitor center, portal walls, overlook, water and sewer lines, a pedestrian bridge over the wetlands and perhaps also the learning center. The estimated cost for this phase is just over $20 million.
“Visitors will see construction this summer,” said commission vice chairwoman Donna Glessner.
National Park Service Site Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said the visitor center will house permanent exhibits and will have a viewing window where people may look down to the site. The learning center will be a multi-purpose building.
“The visitor center will give you your first introduction to the crash site and you will see the surrounding fields and the hillside,” Reinbold said.
Barbara Black, the site’s chief of interpretation for the National Park Service, said the memorial had 318,000 visitors in calendar year 2012. That is compared to 265,000 in 2011. There were 456,000 people who visited from the dedication of the memorial on September 10, 2011, to the end of 2012.
In 2012 there were 1,250 bus groups that toured the site. Unfortunately about only half of the bus groups pre-registered. Pre-registration is available online. Bus groups that pre-register receive a DVD and materials in advance of the visit and pre-registrations ensures [sic] that enough volunteers will be on site.
The next volunteer tree plantings are tentatively scheduled for April 19 and 20; and April 26 and 27.
About 23 acres immediately south of the 20 acres planted last year will be reforested with seedlings. Only 600 volunteer slots will be open. The form needed to volunteer will be on the memorial’s website, but it is not yet available.
“In our past experience, college students used GPS on their cellphones to identify their specific trees that they planted to come back to see them in the future,” said commission member Jerry Spangler.
Invasive plants are going to be identified and mapped out, Newlin said. They will be removed by volunteers in the next five or six years.
Also Saturday, a letter of resignation was accepted from Gary Singel, who has been a commission member since the group was formed. The commission voted to send Singel and outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar letters of thanks. Salazar has been to the memorial seven times as secretary, which is more often than any other national park during his tenure.
The final phase of the memorial construction will be the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tower containing 40 wind chimes, one for each passenger and crew member. The goal is to have the memorial completed by September 11, 2016.
“We’re almost there, the finish line is there,” said commission member Calvin Wilson. “We just have to cross it.”