9/11 families divided over whether National Park Service should take over memorial and museum

By Kate Briquelet New York Post

Divided they stand.

Families of 9/11 victims are demanding a federal takeover of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum — clashing with others who support the mayor’s vision for the site.

Retired FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches says the National Park Service must take control of the monument to keep it running in the long term.

“This is not the New York City 9/11 memorial. This is the American national memorial,” said Riches, head of the 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims. “Let’s go with the guys who know what they’re doing.”

The museum’s construction was halted last year over a financial dispute between the Port Authority, which owns the site, and the foundation that runs the museum and memorial. The foundation is chaired by Mayor Bloomberg.

Riches is calling for the PA to sidestep the mayor and work with the feds directly. He said this would allow the Park Service to take over once the foundation’s operating license expires in September 2013.

Gov. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are trying to get funding and technical help from the agency, but Riches said it’s not enough. His group is pushing for the foundation to become strictly a fund-raising arm.

He blasted the monument’s projected $60 million annual operating cost and the $400,000 salary of the foundation’s board president, Joe Daniels.

“We want transparency and accountability,” said Riches, whose son, Jimmy, a firefighter, died in the World Trade Center attack. “We don’t want people getting rich off this.”

But Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, said a takeover would be an insult to the foundation, which raised $450 million for the memorial.

“For the Park Service to come in now doesn’t make sense,” said Burlingame, a foundation board member whose brother was the pilot aboard the jet that struck the Pentagon.

Julie Wood, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said a handover would mire the site in political infighting.

“The majority of family members just want the museum open already,” Wood said.

Other activists hope the Park Service would better honor 9/11 victims.

Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian, a firefighter, died at the WTC, is outraged at plans to put the remains of unidentified victims in the museum walls instead of an above-ground tomb.

“There’s no honor for my son, who remains missing,” said Regenhard, a member of 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters. “It’s so dysfunctional and so horrific.“

“We need the National Park Service to not only operate it and manage it in a fiscally responsible manner but to bring respect and dignity.”

This entry was posted in 9/11 Community, 9/11 Memorials, Families in the News. Bookmark the permalink.