September 28, 2005

Planned freedom museum at NY’s WTC site canceled

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Plans to build a freedom museum at the
World Trade Center site were effectively scrapped on Wednesday
as Gov. George Pataki gave in to pressure from vocal families
of September 11 victims, saying the project had aroused "too
much opposition, too much controversy."

The International Freedom Center was criticized by some
families of the 2,749 people killed on September 11, 2001, who
said the museum would not focus strictly on the terror attacks
and might mount exhibits that could be judged as anti-American.

"Today there remains too much opposition, too much
controversy, over the programing of the IFC and we must move
forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring
memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their
stories to the world," Pataki said in a statement.

The freedom center, intended to celebrate ideals of freedom
and tolerance, was to stand adjacent to a memorial for
September 11 victims in the rebuilding of the 16-acre (6.5-ha)
site. Some 9/11 family members also believed it might
overshadow the memorial.

Pataki said he would direct the Lower Manhattan Development
Corp. to explore other locations for the center.

But the head of the IFC project said in a statement that he
did not think there was a viable alternative place for the
museum at the World Trade Center site.

"We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to
an end," said IFC president Richard Tofel.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was disappointed.

"Although I understand Gov. Pataki's decision, I am
disappointed that we were not able to find a way to reconcile
the freedoms we hold so dear with the sanctity of the site,"
Bloomberg said in a statement.

Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York applauded the

"I welcome Gov. Pataki's decision to oppose the
International Freedom Center, heeding the concerns of family
members and first responders," Clinton said.

"The controversy surrounding the IFC has impeded progress
on the memorial and essential rebuilding efforts in Lower