(from WashingtonTimes.com) PITTSBURGH (AP) — The federal government will pay about $9.5 million to acquire land so the Flight 93 National Memorial can be built by the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday.
With the National Park Service reaching agreements with eight landowners, construction is expected to start in November, Salazar said.
Salazar called the site where the plane crashed, near Shanksville in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, hallowed ground and said the nation was “eternally grateful for the heroes of Flight 93.”
United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was diverted by hijackers with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol. The official 9/11 Commission report said the hijackers crashed the plane as passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit.
All 33 passengers and seven crew members died.
The agreements cover nearly 1,400 acres and include the actual impact site. That site sits on a 275-acre parcel owned by quarry business Svonavec Inc. The company and the government agreed in January to allow a court to decide the property’s worth.
Salazar said the $9.5 million includes the Svonavec site. It also covers relocating a scrap metal and recycling business owned by Anthony Kordell and about 950 acres owned by Families of Flight 93, which has been acquiring land and fundraising for the memorial.
Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the family group, said it was “tremendously relieved” that the core land acquisition had been completed.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., also welcomed the announcement. He brought Salazar together with landowners in June in hopes of avoiding the government using eminent domain to acquire the lands.
“The landowners deserve our deepest thanks for their cooperation and the sacrifices they have made to allow for construction of the memorial to honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93, who gave their lives to save countless others on September 11th,” Specter said in a statement.
Some property owners complained this year that the government had not provided them offers, or had done so only recently, despite claims that negotiations had been ongoing.
Christine Williams, whose family owned about 6 acres with a log cabin they had planned to retire to, said she was pleased to settle, given the alternative of government seizure.
“It was just a matter of someone sitting down at the table and saying ‘Yes, we can do this.’ And no one had,” Williams said Monday.
She said that she has been paid but that her family hasn’t found another cabin. They must be out in October.
Copyright 2009 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. For educational purposes only. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.
1. Where will the Flight 93 National Memorial be built?
2. How many passengers and crew members died in the terrorist attack on Flight 93?
3. a) How many acres of land will make up the Flight 93 Memorial grounds?
b) How many of those acres were acquired by the U.S. National Park Service from the Families of Flight 93?
4. If the government did not come to an agreement with the property owners for the remaining acres, how would they have acquired the land?
5. Why do you think it took almost 8 years after 9/11 for the government to buy the property for the memorial?
6. Do you think it is a good idea for the National Park Service to take over the Flight 93 Memorial? Why or why not?
Visit honorflight93.org for information on the Flight 93 memorial and the Americans who died that day.
Visit the National Parks Service Flight 93 website nps.gov/flni/index.htm for information on this year’s 9/11 commemorative event, and plans for the permanent memorial.
For a better understanding of where Flight 93 crashed, go to maps.google.com and type in Shankesville, PA.
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