Millions have been demanded for a portion of the land where a Flight 93 memorial is planned. The man who owns that land, Mike Svonavec, has set up a donation, in the form of a box, to help pay for security, according to the Associated Press.
The victim’s families are quite angry at his actions, and believe that he is overcharging. They also disagree with his need for a donation box.
“That land has been paid for with 40 lives … the donation box is an insult to that cost,” Patrick White, who is vice president of Families for Flight 93, was quoted as saying, according to the Associated Press.
Svonavec has asked for $10 million for the land. He owns 273 acres in Somerset County, and his asking price is quite more per-acre than that paid for nearby land. He has rejected three offers so far, the latest being for more than $500,000. Svonavec maintains that he only wants fair market value for his land, and that he will not accept any money for the exact site of the crash. Flight 93 of United Arlines crashed on Sept. 11th, 2001, when terrorists hijacked the plane. 40 passengers and crew members died that day. Flight 93 was on its way from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked and went down in a field near Shanksville. Passengers have been reported to have rushed the cockpit, ultimately causing the crash, according to the 9/11 Commisssion.
“I think Svonavec believes his land, because it has the blood of my cousin and 39 other people, it’s worth more,” White said. Svonavec would not comment on his $10 million dollar figure.
The installed donation box, which is near a temporary memorial on the land, is said to help cover security costs, Security costs about $10,000 per month and is handled by a private firm. Federal funding ran out in February. There are other costs associated with the site, also.
“I just can’t afford it. I need some help”, Svonavec said, according to the Associated Press.
60 of the 1,300 acres that will be needed for not only the memorial, but for the national park, has already been bought. Svonavec owns the second-largest piece of the land in the area. PBS Coals, Inc. owns the largest, at 864 acres.
White is also negotiating with PBS Coals, and remaining pieces of land are in different stages of being bought.
Svonavec says he is dealing with advisor’s, including Randall Bell. Randall Bell is a real estate appraiser, who is based in California, who specializes in property that has had disasters occur on it. Svonavec is still waiting for a completed appraisal. He had rejected an earlier Park service offer, and said “it just wasn’t acceptable”, according to the Associated Press.
The memorial is to reportedly cost $58 million to build. It was established in 2002 by an act of Congress. Construction is supposed to start in late 2008 or early 2009. A ribbon cutting ceremony is already planned to mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.
originally reported by Daniel Lovering, Associated Press, “Flight 93 memorial land in dispute”
Flight 93 National Memorial Project: http://www.honorflight93.org
National Park Service Flight 93 National Memorial: http://www.flight93memorialproject.org