The reflective pool at The National September 11 Memorial Museum is viewed on September 7, 2012 in New York City. As New York City and the country prepare for the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, work proceeds at the former site of the World Trade Center Towers. The 16-acre site, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and is being rebuilt with developer Larry Silverstein, has a projected price tag of $14.8 billion. Of the four office towers p
New York, NY (written by Larry Higgs/The Courier-Post) -- Optimism from a year ago has turned to embarrassment as the 9/11 Museum misses the deadline to open for the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and an opening likely won't happen any time soon.
Months of bickering between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the National 9/11 Museum and Memorial Foundation has brought construction to a standstill. An opening date of "2013 or later" was forecast in financial documents filed in July by the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation, rather than the Sept. 11, 2012, date cited by Port Authority officials last year.
Cost estimates could reach $1 billion for the delayed museum and the 9/11 memorial, and an independent audit of the Port Authority criticized the arrangement, in which the authority is doing construction for the foundation, but has to wait for reimbursement.
Disagreements between the foundation and the Port Authority, which owns the World Trade Center site, dominated the news more than progress on the museum's construction and opening, after it was announced late last year that the target date of Sept. 11, 2012, would not be met.
Neither the foundation's nor the Port Authority's websites list a completion or opening date for the museum. However, foundation financial statements for 2010 and 2011 predicted a delay of the opening date to 2013 or later because of "an ongoing contractual dispute between the organization and the PANYNJ." Those documents were dated July 12 of this year.
A memorial official speaking on background said that once an agreement is reached, one year's worth of work remains on the museum -- and that construction is at a standstill because of disagreements with the Port Authority about who is responsible for infrastructure both share on the trade center site.
A tour of the WTC site scheduled for last Friday was canceled by the Port Authority.
Officials declined to answer other questions about the museum and its progress, or about an agreement with the foundation.
"When there is something to announce, we'll announce it," Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said, echoing a prior statement made by Pat Foye, authority executive director, when asked about the museum and negotiations with the foundation.
Since it was announced last November that the museum wouldn't open on time, the only news is that the Port Authority and the foundation, which is headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are still negotiating.
The current situation is a marked contrast to 15 months ago, when Port Authority officials said optimistically that the museum's completion would follow the 9/11 memorial and open this year, for the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
"The target date was to open (the museum) on Sept. 11, 2012; we are ahead of that," Bill Baroni, Port Authority deputy executive director, said during a June 2011 tour of the World Trade Center site.
Last summer, museum work seemed to be rolling along, almost ahead of schedule. Lighting fixtures were installed to illuminate a memorial wall and some were turned on -- progress that surprised and delighted Port Authority officials. Steel framing and, in some cases, walls were up for rooms housing different exhibits.
The project stalled in November, and Bloomberg confirmed the museum wouldn't open as planned on Sept. 11, 2012. Disputes between the Port Authority and the foundation were blamed.
The 2012 opening date might have been an optimistic assessment. An October 2008 World Trade Center report by the Port Authority said museum completion likely would be during the second quarter of 2013.
Foundation officials maintained that the cost of the museum can't be separated from the $100 million estimate for both the museum and memorial, because they have shared underground infrastructure.