New York Gov. George Pataki bowing to pressure from Sept. 11 families, removed a proposed freedom center from the space reserved for it near the planned World Trade Center memorial, saying the museum project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy."
Pataki initially said the state would help the International Freedom Center find another home, but center officials said they weren't interested and considered the project dead.
Pataki said Wednesday that a planned cultural building meant for the freedom center would now tell only the story of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., created by Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to rebuild the trade center site, will work on Sept. 11-related content for the building, LMDC spokesman John Gallagher said.
The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying the freedom center would overshadow and take space from the separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.
"Freedom should unify us. This center has not," Pataki said. "Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the IFC. ... 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."
International Freedom Center officials said in a statement that they did not believe there was a viable location for their museum elsewhere at the site.
"We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end," they said.
The campaign by Sept. 11 families to oust the freedom center had grown to include four police and fire unions, an online petition with more than 40,000 signatures, and several politicians including Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton., reports the AP.
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