Join The NonProfit Times: or Become a member

Subscribe: Print Publication or Newsletter

Stay connected.
Stay informed.

Families Want Park Service To Take Over WTC Memorial

By Mark Hrywna - July 9, 2012

A group of family members of victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks is calling for the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum to be taken over by the National Park Service (NPS), with the nonprofit transformed into a “Friends Of” group responsible only for fundraising.

The 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims today renewed its call on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as the two states’ governors, to cease negotiations with the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration over the creation of an oversight board at the memorial.

The organization advocates that control of the museum be transferred to NPS next year upon expiration of the foundation’s license to operate the site. “It is obvious that the current, private 9/11 foundation does not want any restraints or oversight concerning their out of control spending and gross mismanagement of the memorial and museum, now pegged at a reported incredible $1.3 billion,” said Jim Riches, a retired fire chief and chairman of 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims.

The site has been “desecrated by an ever-increasing wave of inappropriate behavior including trash in the pools, graffiti, football tossing, laughing, and running about,” he said. “The memorial foundation’s inability to control this activity is exacerbated by its obvious desire to make Ground Zero into a public park instead of a national shrine.”

Riches also takes issue with design of the site, claiming that all direct references to the attacks “have been scrubbed” and suggesting “hundreds of American flags” at the memorial instead of the single flag “relegated to the edge of the site on top of a mechanical equipment building.”

The Koenig Sphere, the single surviving aboveground artifact of the attacks, has been banned from the site because, according to Riches, Foundation President and CEO Joe Daniels said it would “compromise the integrity” of the memorial. A spokesman for the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation had no comment.

Riches argues that the museum is shiny and new while the sphere is old and damaged, which is why officials didn’t want it on display. “It’s banged up a little bit and would remind people of that day. They have a different vision. They don’t want people to dwell on that day, but think more about the future,” he said.

The Park Service should operate the entire memorial site and the current foundation transformed into a “Friends Of” partnership, with the sole purpose to raise money for the memorial and museum similar to groups like the Gettysburg Foundation and the African Burial Ground Monument Foundation, according to Riches. There are more than 150 “Friends Of” groups connected to national parks and memorials in the United States whose primary role is fundraising.

“We don’t see why the current 9/11 Foundation should not be assigned this very same role. In this way, the NPS can operate the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the 9/11 memorial foundation can perform the crucial role of raising the needed funds to sustain the memorial and museum,” Riches said. “They have the expertise.”

The Port Authority has accused the foundation in recent months of still owing hundreds of millions of dollars as part of the deal to complete construction of the memorial.

In a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed by more than 200 relatives to Sept. 11 victims, the families called on the governors to direct the Port Authority to honor its contract with the foundation. The families claimed that the bi-state agency is accusing the foundation of owing $157 million simply as a means to “raid the coffers” of the charitable organization to overcome its own mismanagement of capital projects. They criticize the governors for allowing the funding dispute to halt construction on the memorial, which now likely won’t be completed until 2013.

The foundation previously has said that a 2006 agreement capped the foundation’s financial obligation to the Port Authority at $530 million, and that the agency agreed to complete the memorial by 2009.

While the foundation has raised millions in donations, it also has received millions in taxpayer dollars through the lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Federal Emergency Management Agency, Riches said, which warrants some government oversight. In addition, the Port Authority owns the land where the museum is being built.

“They want no federal government oversight, they want to be able to do whatever they want to do,” said Riches. And with the museum floating the idea of a $20 admission fees, and an anticipated five million visitors annually, he said the Port Authority wants a piece of that.

“They said give us hundreds of millions of dollars but don’t ask us what we’re going to do with the money. Someone should watch over this fiscally,” Riches said.


Sponsored Podcasts

Welcome to the Raise & Engage podcast, a filters-off series for nonprofit professionals hosted by Blackbaud's straight-shooting expert Danielle Johnson Vermenton. During this open-mic session, you’ll hear honest advice to help YOU do more for your cause.

Episode 6: The Power of ‘No’ at Work|| daniellejohnson-76

You have a job description, but on any given day, you're probably doing dozens of things outside the scope of that description. Combine that with the challenge of a fast-paced environment and the shifting priorities of funders, colleagues, and board members and it’s easy to fall short of doing your best. By being mindful of your limitations and capacity—and saying “no” when your plate is full—you can actually do more for your cause. In the sixth installment of the Raise and Engage podcast Danielle Johnson and Robin Anderson discuss the power of saying “no” at work.

Episode 5: Professional Development: Getting Un-Stuck|| daniellejohnson-76

In the most recent episode of Raise + Engage, Danielle is back with Brian Reich from little m media to discuss how nonprofit professionals can stay motivated and energized in their day-to-day roles. Brian shares his experience working with nonprofits and the lessons and tips he's learn from and shared with them over the years, including tips for avoiding a professional rut, creating forward momentum in your career and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're considering making a career move or want to ensure you're on the right path, you won't want to miss this inspo-packed episode!

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane, is all about tips, tricks and tools for sanity. Blackbaud’s own interactive product marketer, Julia Lenz, joins host Danielle Johnson to share some high tech. (and no tech.) productivity tips to help nonprofit professionals stay sane in the crazy world of philanthropy.

Tune in to hear:

  • Tips for how to spend the first 30 minutes of your day
  • The benefits of 15 minute meetings
  • Why notebooks are still relevant to a successful organization
  • Ideas for better managing your inbox
  • Why you should take lunch outside the box
  • ...and much more!
Don’t forget to visit the #NoFilterNonprofit Hub afterwards to download our newest tip sheet10 Productivity Hacks for Nonprofits.

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff In episode 3 of the Raise + Engage podcast, Danielle Johnson is joined by Chris Geady and William DaSilva, two IT experts in the nonprofit space, to talk technology integration for NPOs: when you need it, when you don’t, and how to do it successfully.

Tune in to hear:

  • When to say NO to integration
  • How to set your strategic plan before even looking at technologies
  • Ways to get your entire team on board
  • The importance of identifying a project lead
  • The RFP process - how it should and should not go
And William shares a story about a nonprofit that may or may not have still been using a typewriter. You don't want to miss this one!

Episode 2: From Socially Awkward to Socially Awesome! || daniellejohnson-76

According to Danielle Johnson, straight-shooting host of the Raise + Engage podcast series, if your staff members aren’t the number one advocates for your cause on social media, you’re failing. In the most recent episode, Danielle is joined by Blackbaud’s own social media guru Madeline Turner to discuss overcoming social struggles and creating a social ambassador program at your organization. This entertaining and insightful duo dishes on the importance of making your social media presence human, making the case for a formal social program to leadership, how University of Michigan turned a one time social media campaign into a long term social program, and how Madeline's mom unknowingly became a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday.

Episode 1: Corporate Culture & Development: Shake It Up! || daniellejohnson-76

In the premiere episode of Raise & Engage, Danielle is joined by three straight-shooting nonprofit rock-stars: Jodi Smith of Sanford Health Systems, Veronica Brown of Chicago Public Library Foundation and Ali Burke of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation. The group talks organizational culture, problem employees, why its important to celebrate and how to shake things up this year and build a better more authentic team that gets stuff done!


Stay informed, catch latest trends in the nonprofit space.

Subscribe to Our Free Newsletter

No obligation, unsubscribe at anytime.

Success! Check your email inbox.

Follow Us On Twitter

NPT 2016 Buyers' Guide

Newsletter Sign-up

click here to return to the previous page