- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The federal government will pay about $9.5 million to acquire land so the Flight 93 National Memorial can be built by the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday.

With the National Park Service reaching agreements with eight landowners, construction is expected to start in November, Salazar said.

Salazar called the site where the plane crashed, near Shanksville in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, hallowed ground and said the nation was “eternally grateful for the heroes of Flight 93.”

United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was diverted by hijackers with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol. The official 9/11 Commission report said the hijackers crashed the plane as passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit.

All 33 passengers and seven crew members died.

The agreements cover nearly 1,400 acres and include the actual impact site. That site sits on a 275-acre parcel owned by quarry business Svonavec Inc. The company and the government agreed in January to allow a court to decide the property’s worth.

Salazar said the $9.5 million includes the Svonavec site. It also covers relocating a scrap metal and recycling business owned by Anthony Kordell and about 950 acres owned by Families of Flight 93, which has been acquiring land and fundraising for the memorial.

Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the family group, said it was “tremendously relieved” that the core land acquisition had been completed.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., also welcomed the announcement. He brought Salazar together with landowners in June in hopes of avoiding the government using eminent domain to acquire the lands.

“The landowners deserve our deepest thanks for their cooperation and the sacrifices they have made to allow for construction of the memorial to honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93, who gave their lives to save countless others on September 11th,” Specter said in a statement.

Some property owners complained this year that the government had not provided them offers, or had done so only recently, despite claims that negotiations had been ongoing.

Christine Williams, whose family owned about 6 acres with a log cabin they had planned to retire to, said she was pleased to settle, given the alternative of government seizure.

“It was just a matter of someone sitting down at the table and saying ‘Yes, we can do this.’ And no one had,” Williams said Monday.

She said that she has been paid but that her family hasn’t found another cabin. They must be out in October.

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