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The pools at the 9/11 Memorial. (AN / Tom Stoelker)
In the days immediately following the show of solidarity on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Port Authority and Governor Cuomo retreated to one corner and Mayor Bloomberg and the Sept 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation to another over accusations of $300 million in cost overruns that neither party has agreed to pay. Construction of the museum has ground to a halt decreasing the likelihood that the Museum will open next year as promised.
One World Trade Center at night. (AN / Tom Stoelker)
On December 15, the Governor told Albany radio host Fred Dicker that the Port Authority was “on the verge” of suing the Foundation. The PA charged that the Foundation has not provided $156 million for infrastructure costs and has subsequently not reimbursed the Authority for awarded contracts since immediately after the anniversary. On the radio show, Cuomo said $300 million was owed to the PA, an amount said to include newly revised project costs as well as money already spent on infrastructure.
In a statement, Michael Frazier, the foundation’s spokesperson, said, “The 9/ll Memorial has met every funding commitment. There is no validity to the Port Authority’s claim; in fact, as recently as yesterday this claim was half of this amount. The Memorial has a counterclaim against the Port totaling more than $140 million. The Mayor clarified all of this today.”
In a rebuttal made at a news conference on Friday at a Bronx elementary school, Mayor Bloomberg said, “We don’t owe anything.” While noting that the city is working with PA to resolve the issue, he added, “It’s hard to see us getting to a courtroom, but if it has to go there, it has to go there.”
A source familiar with the situation said that there is a $300-500 million bill lurking and unaccounted for, but that it has to do with site-wide security costs. At issue as well is the dedicated task force assembled by former PA head Chris Ward to cut through previous disagreements, which may have been disbanded when the new director Patrick Foye took over. Whether the city or the Port Authority is responsible for escalating security costs seems unclear.
With a virtual halt in construction, Frazier said in a phone call that the timely completion of the Museum is endangered. “The Museum was next in line to be completed before Towers Four and even One. What’s really at stake now are all the items and donations by family members and others that were entrusted to us to preserve but are now in storage and in jeopardy.”