NY, NJ Governors Seek Federal Help On 9/11 Memorial

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cuomo-christieNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Saturday urged the federal government to shoulder the long-term burden of operating the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, including funding and assistance with managing the site.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the governors stressed the “national and international significance” of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, and asked that the National Park Service take on a “greater role” in funding and managing the memorial.

The park service is the federal agency that operates the nation’s system of parks, including battlefields and other sites of historic importance.

The letter from Messrs. Cuomo and Christie supports a legislative effort by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who had previously sought to have the park service take over operation of the memorial.

“Like so many other historic sites where tragedy struck, the National Park Service would bring the resources and experience to ensure long term stability for the memorial and museum, while preserving the site’s rightful place in our national history,” the governors said in a written statement.

The governors’ letter cites an example of an institution run by a private foundation with assistance from the park service: the National Holocaust Museum in Washington.

The governors’ support wasn’t a surprise. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration last year had urged the senators to introduce legislation to bring park service resources to bear on the memorial. The mayor gave a tour of the memorial site last year to Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, a key supporter of the proposal. Neither governor had opposed that effort, which would help solve a significant issue of future concern: how to manage the costs and resource demands of a site that is simultaneously a major tourist attraction, museum, zone for mourning and contemplation, and a potential target – once again – for terrorist attack.

The memorial was opened on Sep. 11 last year but the museum’s opening has been delayed indefinitely because of funding disputes between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — an agency overseen by Messrs. Cuomo and Christie — and the Sept. 11 Memorial Foundation, of which Mr. Bloomberg is chairman. The site sits at the center of a knot of several bureaucracies. At issue are hundreds of millions in construction costs.

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority said the agency is fully supportive of the governors’ letter.

A spokeswoman for the Interior department referred comment to the National Park Service, which declined to comment.

Michael Frazier, chief spokesman for the memorial, said in a statement, “We are pleased Governors Cuomo and Christie are voicing their support for the bill and we look forward to working with them on passing this vital legislation.”

{The Wall Street Journal/Matzav.com Newscenter}


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