Officials from both sides of a dispute that has slowed work at a Sept. 11 museum that is to tell the stories of the dead and provide a final resting place for unidentified human remains said Tuesday that they're close to an agreement to resume construction.
"We're down to a few things, a very small amount of money where we disagree," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, speaking of the disagreement between the foundation that controls the memorial and museum and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site. Bloomberg is chairman of the foundation.
Later in the day, Port Authority Chairman Patrick Foye testified at a New York state Senate hearing that "a significant number of the issues have been resolved." He said both sides met last week and added: "We all look forward to a resolution of those issues in short order."
Construction of the museum, originally scheduled to open on the 11th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, largely ground to a halt after subcontractors at the site stopped getting paid late last year. The Port Authority claimed the Sept. 11 memorial foundation owed it $300 million for infrastructure and revised project costs, while the foundation argued the Port Authority owed it money because of project delays.
Family members of those killed in the 2001 attacks have been upset over the delays at the ground zero museum, and some have voiced concern that the construction could be sliding back into dysfunction. Powerful political forces have long been at work at the 16-acre site: The Port Authority is jointly controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey, while Bloomberg has been chairman of the foundation for several years.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg offered no specifics on a completion date or on the amount of money still in question.
"As long as we're going in the right direction and doing it together, this memorial and museum is going to get done," he said.
The comments follow a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "a tremendous amount of money" had been wasted at the site and said toll increases would not be used to pay for the project.
But on Tuesday, Foye, whose agency operates area transit hubs, bridges and tunnels, said that the question of toll increases was irrelevant.
"No bridge and tunnel tolls are allocated to the site," he said. "Funding for the World Trade Center comes from third-party sources including federal grants and insurance proceeds and Port Authority resources."
Associated Press writer Michael Gormley in Albany contributed to this report.
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