There is an interesting fight brewing over the planned memorial to Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The owner of the land, Svonavec Inc., refuses to sell a critical part of the needed land and the relatives want President Bush to seize the property to allow them to start construction of the memorial so that it can be finished by 2011 — the tenth anniversary of the tragedy.
Patrick White, vice president of the group Families of Flight 93, has asked President Bush to empower the Secretary of the Interior to take the land. They are demanding 2200 acres for the memorial — much of which are owned by Svonavec. The company has refused to negotiate and the National Park Service has indicated that it is retaining an independent appraiser for 275 acres in dispute.
The government has set aside $58 million for the memorial. The company reportedly turned down a $250,000 offer from the Park Service as well as a $750,000 offer from Families of Flight 93. The company reportedly wants $10 million for the land and forced the Park Service to move the temporary memorial off his land, citing security reasons. The difference between $10 million and the price offered is a bit curious. Either the company is profiteering or the group is trying to force an effective corporate donation of the land. Notably, there have been three appraisals including a second appraisal that was never released by the service.
Mike Svonavec of Svonavec Inc. has complained that the National Park Service and Flight 93 groups are “trying to make my company and myself look like the bad guy in this.” They appear to have succeeded.
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