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Divisions still plague Trade Center memorial

Published May 7, 2006

NEW YORK - Twenty stories up, a Web camera pointed at the foundations of the destroyed World Trade Center takes pictures on the hour, recording the first signs of construction of the memorial to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Workers began painstakingly clearing off the tower footprints in March, hoping to pour concrete this month for the two reflecting pools planned for the center of the design.

However, the progress of the ambitious tribute is threatened by controversies over the planned memorial's safety, cost, layout and symbolism.

As the memorial's cost spirals toward $1-billion, the mayor and the governors of New York and New Jersey, who control the interstate Port Authority that owns the site, say the price would have to be halved.

Opponents of the "Reflecting Absence" design, led by some of the Sept. 11 victims' families, say the proposed layout will be unsafe and send the wrong symbolic message by directing mourners to an underground memorial.

"This does total dishonor to the lives and deaths of these people by burying this under the ground," said Sally Regenhard, mother of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11.

James Kallstrom, a former FBI assistant director who leads a task force developing security plans for ground zero, said the entire 16-acre site is vulnerable to terrorism and he has asked for modification to enhance security.

"The whole site, particularly the memorial, particularly the sacred footprints and anything to do with the old-world World Trade Center and the tragedy has a lot of symbolism," said Kallstrom. "Whether or not terrorists decide that that's their target ... I think it would be less than professional not to recognize the symbolism here."

[Last modified May 7, 2006, 07:03:02]

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