Friday, June 5, 2009
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter held a meeting with landowners of the Flight 93 crash site today. The landowners got the chance to voice their concerns about the price of the land to be sold for the memorial and the possibility of eminent domain. Flight 93 Memorial Deputy Superintendent Keith Newlin, who attended the meeting, says Salazar has not ruled out that option. "[Salazar is] quite clear that we're going to meet the schedule. We brought the landowners in and we hope to open dialogue with them and talk to them, but we are going to meet the schedule, and if that does require the use of eminent domain as a backdrop, that's what we'll do," says Newlin. He says the memorial needs a whopping 2200 acres to be completed before 2011. "The primary reason that the boundary is so large is that there were local concerns raised during the planning process about the number of vehicles on local roads, and folks really wanted to maintain the tranquility of their local environment. They preferred that the [National Parks] Service build a road that could handle all this traffic, and it's considerable," says Newlin. Though negotiations with the landowners will need to continue, Newlin says he's glad discourse with the federal government is on the table. "The landowners did get to express their opinions. They have frustrations and it's well they should have been able to do that," says Newlin. "The landowners didn't ask for that plane to go down in their property either."