Saturday, June 16

Donation box removed from Flight 93 crash site

A controversial donation box is being removed from the Flight 93 crash site. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced on Tuesday a $120,000 grant to pay for security at the site for two years.

Although the box says “Flight 93 National Memorial,” money donated actually goes to the land owner, who said he needs to pay for his security costs of $10,000 per month, for which both the government and Families for Flight 93 refuse to reimburse him.

Mike Svonavec said he erected the box to cover security costs at the site near Shanksville, which includes a temporary memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the box angered victims' families, and the National Park Service covered it with a black plastic bag.
WTAE - channel 4 in Pittsburgh reports these important facts of the story:
The Park Service has a contract with Svonavec to use the land for the memorial, which was established by an act of Congress in 2002. But the act stipulates that land for the permanent memorial must be acquired from willing sellers.

Svonavec, who owns the actual crash site, has refused to negotiate with the families, saying he will only deal with the Park Service. He owns the second-largest parcel of land after PBS Coals Inc., which owns 864 acres. Memorial planners have purchased only 60 acres so far.

A temporary memorial has been erected. Construction of a $58 million permanent memorial and national park is scheduled to begin by 2009, but fundraising has fallen well short of organizers' goals.

Kirk Swauger at The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa reports that three months ago, the county stopped using deputy sheriffs to patrol the memorial after federal funding for security expired.

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