NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tri-State Area officials announced an agreement Monday that will lead to the completion of the Sept. 11 museum.
Political squabbling brought construction of the museum to a screeching halt. Now, digging will soon resume after governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hashed out their differences.
Cuomo said the agreement between the Port Authority and the foundation that controls the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was reached late Monday.
“By ensuring that no additional public funds are spent to complete the Memorial and Museum, today’s agreement puts in place a critical and long overdue safeguard to finally protect toll payers and taxpayers from bearing further costs, and, at the same time, put the project on a path for completion,” Cuomo said in a statement released Monday night.
The Port Authority owns the World Trade Center site. The museum once was scheduled to open this year. Work slowed late last year when the subcontractors at the site stopped getting paid.
Construction on the museum will begin at the end of the month, according to Mayor Bloomberg.
“Were going to build a museum that is really important to the families of the 9/11 victims and to all of those that contributed photos and mementos and trying to preserve the memories of those they loved that are no longer here,” Bloomberg told reporters, including CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.
Bloomberg said there will be a lot of fundraising to do and the project will take as long as necessary to complete.
“Our first concern is safety, our second concern is making sure we do it right so that this museum is the same quality as the memorial and will be around for many generations. Our third concern is that we do it as affordably as possible and then and only then do we worry about a date,” Bloomberg told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.
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The mayor also hinted that the financial books will be more open as the Port Authority had requested.
“I think this is a good example of democracy at work,” Bloomberg said.
Christie also released a statement saying he was “gratified to be a part” of the “commitment and agreement…to immediately resume around the clock construction at the 9/11 Museum.”
The news came on the same day the federal government determined the smoke and fumes at ground zero can cause cancer and that 50 types of cancers will be added to the James Zadroga Health Fund that provides healthcare to 9/11 first responders.
Earlier, funding for the museum was the subject of a dispute between Cuomo and Bloomberg. The museum was supposed to be open by Tuesday, but questions about funding have caused a work stoppage.
Cuomo went on a radio show in Albany and said the 9/11 Memorial and Museum needed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars without raising Port Authority tolls.
Mayor Bloomberg said the money was all there.
“The governor has not been well-informed by his staff,” Mayor Bloomberg said earlier. “I think it’s true we have already given the Port Authority every single penny that we are required to. They are holding the funds. The Port Authority has not released those funds, if I remember.”
The mayor is the chairman of the Memorial and Museum Foundation.
“The obligations that the Port [Authority] has are well-documented and the obligations that the foundation have are well-documented. My recollection is we originally were going to agree to raise a couple hundred million dollars and they came back and wanted another $75 million. We raised over $450 million, so we’ve done all of that,” Bloomberg added.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s anniversary will mark the first time elected officials will not be included in the reading of the victims’ names, but politicians are still invited to attend remembrance ceremonies.
“It’s a very solemn day tomorrow and the message I guess is your heart goes out to the families but for those of us that didn’t lose anybody, we’ve just got to make sure that we educate the next generation so this does not happen again,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
Spokesmen for Cuomo and Christie said the governors were fine with the decision made by the memorial organizers to exclude politicians from the ceremony.
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