Owner wants $10 million for Flight 93 crash site land

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.)
Image: Aude.

Mike Svonavec, the owner of the land in Somerset County, Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001 has set a US$10 million price tag for his property, which is sought by the group, Families of Flight 93 and the United States National Park Service for building a memorial dedicated to those on the plane.

Svonavec says that the price is fair market value for the 273 acre property and the organization would not be charged for the exact site of the crash. The organization has offered to buy the land for no more than $500,000 at least three times.

Currently, the U.S. National Park Service only owns approximately 60 acres of the land. PBS Coals Inc. owns 864 acres of the land and Svonavec owns 273 acres. The entire field is nearly 2,000 acres.

The permanent memorial is estimated to cost $58 million and is scheduled to be constructed starting in 2008 or 2009. On the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, a ribbon will be cut at the site.

Svonavec has also placed a box on the crash site temporary memorial, where visitors can leave a "donation" to pay for his asking price for the land as well as the cost of providing security at the site. Funding was provided for the cost of security, but in February the funds were already used up and Svonavec says he can no longer afford to keep the land maintained and secure. Reports say that the security company that is currently in charge of security charges $10,000 per month.

"That land has been paid for with 40 lives...the donation box is an insult to that cost. I think Svonavec believes his land, because it has the blood of my cousin and 39 other people, it's worth more," said Patrick White, Vice President, Families of Flight 93.