Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo’s dispute over which group should pay for and oversee the 9/11 Memorial and Museum brought construction to a halt in June, but on Monday night they finally reached a deal. “I’m very gratified that on the eve of this important anniversary we are able to announce an agreement that will ensure the completion of the 9/11 museum,” said Bloomberg in a statement, adding that work “will be restarted very soon and will not stop until the museum is completed.” Officials are hoping that the underground museum, which was scheduled to open on Tuesday before construction stopped after the tenth anniversary, will be completed by the end of 2013 — though it definitely won’t be finished in time for next September 11.
The New York Times reports that under the deal, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum foundation, which Bloomberg heads, will pay $12 million for construction on top of the $280 million in private donations and $330 million in state and federal funds it’s already contributed, as well as up to $1 million a year for 30 years from operating surpluses, starting in 2018. In return the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is controlled by Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, will transfer ownership of the land that the museum sits on to the foundation. According to The Wall Street Journal, the foundation will be responsible for operational details like admission policies and prices, but it will share more financial information with the Port Authority. Cuomo applauded the plan, saying, “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’s spokesman insists that the agencies were mainly held up by disagreements over controlling the cost of the project, but the arrangement also calls for the creation of several task forces intended to prevent future clashes between Cuomo, Christie, and Bloomberg. The Daily News reports that while the mayor’s office will still have the final say on events like the annual anniversary commemoration, in the future Cuomo and Christie will be consulted on functions held at the site.
While this is more progress than the museum has seen in some time, there are still plenty of details to work out, and the mayor and governor aren’t known for their conciliatory attitudes. Yet on Monday, Joe Daniels, the museum’s president, said he remains cautiously optimistic. While addressing family members and first responders who were invited to preview an interactive exhibit commemorating the victims, Daniels said, “I don’t have a crystal ball other than to say that I know that each and every principal, whether it’s Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, myself, other folks at the city and the state, recognize the importance of getting it done, and that leads me to believe that it will get done.”