Mike Svonavec, the man who owns the land where Flight 93 landed on September 11, 2001, has angered the families of the victims who died there. A memorial is planned for the site of the crash, but now Mr. Svonavec is asking for millions of dollars for the property, reports The Associated Press on Yahoo! News.
Mr. Svonavec has added a donation box to help to pay for security. The families do not believe there is a need for a donation box and they feel that his asking price for the land is unfair and inflated.
For the two hundred and seventy three acres of land, Svonavec is asking for ten million dollars. He refused to comment on that figure, and said that the security has been provided by a firm and costs $10,000 per month. Federal funding ran out in February and he has had other costs to pay for as well. Svonavec commented, “I just can’t afford it…I need some help.”
Randall Bell, a California-based real estate appraiser who specializes in properties where disasters have occurred, is the adviser that Svonavec is working with. He is waiting for an appraisal to be completed.
Vice president for Families of Flight 93, Patrick White, stated “That land has been paid for with 40 lives … the donation box is an insult to that cost…I think Svonavec believes his land, because it has the blood of my cousin and 39 other people, it’s worth more.” The group says that Mike Svonavec is asking twenty times the market value of the property, according to The Tribune-Democrat.
Ed Root, president of Families of Flight 93, said “Define it as you will. But to me, he’s holding hostage the memorial, the families, the Congress of the United States and the American people… He knows we need that land. We can’t build it in Philadelphia. That’s the land that’s important. He holds all the cards.”
The group has made three offers to Svonavec, the highest exceeding $500,000, all of which he has turned down. Svonavec states that he wants fair market value for the land but will accept no money for the piece of land on which the plane crashed on September the 11th.
He had requested to deal exclusively with the National Park Service instead of the group but had also previously rejected an offer made by the Park Service, as “it just wasn’t acceptable.” The Park Service is currently working on another appraisal of the property.
An act of Congress in 2002 established the memorial at $58 million. Construction is set to begin in 2008 or 2009 and a ribbon cutting is set to occur at the ten year anniversary of the attacks.