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9/11 Memorial Delay Sparks Families To Accuse Cuomo And Christie Of Betrayal

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Governors Christie and Cuomo tour construction at the World Trade Center with President Obama.
Governors Christie and Cuomo tour construction at the World Trade Center with President Obama.

NEW YORK — A group of 9/11 family members on Wednesday accused the governors of New York and New Jersey of betraying the people killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks, urging them to resolve a financial disagreement that has hobbled construction of the ground zero museum meant to memorialize those lost.

"The Port Authority's conduct is a betrayal of those who died on 9/11. It is a betrayal of the thousands who risked everything to honor them, and it is a betrayal of the growing number of children for whom `9/11' is not a first-hand memory," said the letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who jointly control the agency that owns the World Trade Center site.

Of the many thousands of family members, more than 200 signed the missive, voicing support for the foundation that controls the memorial and museum while excoriating the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Work on the museum has been slowed since last year, with both sides locked in a dispute over hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was the latest development in an increasingly acrimonious clash over the site's future. Weeks ago, another group of family members accused the foundation of allowing costs to spiral out of control, and it said that public money shouldn't be used to rescue the project. Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the foundation, said the organization's costs hadn't risen significantly.

Wednesday's letter laid the blame on the Port Authority, saying the agency "is seeking to use the public's heartfelt support of the 9/11 memorial and museum as an easy source of revenue to help pay for its own oversized, under-budgeted, poorly-managed capital projects."

But a Port Authority spokeswoman disputed that, saying in a response Wednesday: "Completing the 9/11 Memorial Museum and providing families with a proper venue to remember their loved ones is of utmost importance to us."

"We will continue to work with all stakeholders to reach an agreement that protects public dollars and ensures a site of national significance to honor all who died on 9/11," spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden said in a statement.

MacSpadden said that dozens of workers remain at the site every day, working on electrical and piping systems and carpentry projects. But others note that many more workers would be required to move full-speed ahead on the project.

Earlier this month, Christie and Cuomo asked the U.S. National Parks Service to step in at the site to offer financial support and "ensure long term stability." Days earlier, the chairmen of both the foundation and the Port Authority had said they were close to an agreement, but the deal never materialized.

A spokesman for Christie referred to the statement from the Port Authority. A spokesman for Cuomo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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