Sunday, 28 December 2008

Flight 93 Memorial

Somewhere around Shanksville, PA...there is an interesting event unfolding. There is this site of the United Airlines Flight 93 crash....where a bunch of people want to establish a memorial. For a number of years....we've gone through various stages of making this memorial occur, and now the last speedbump....but its a unusual event. The owners of the property won't sell.

Flight 93 is part of the 9/11 terror attack....and represents one of three significant points where lives were lost.

The problem this entire effort now....is that property owners haven't been happy with the offerings of the government....and want a more substantial offering to part with the property. If we were talking about one owner....it'd be a simple case....but the size of the memorial is 2,200 acres, so there are several chunks of land involved in this effort. With no movement...the families of Flight 93 asked President George W. Bush to empower the Secretary of the Interior to take the land in dispute from the owners.

The race to finish now? Well....yeah.....the families all want this done by the tenth anniversary (2011).

Somewhere in the midst of this discussion is Svonavec Inc, who happens own one of the bigger chunks of the property (200-plus acres). Svonavec is a coal-mining operation and they basically want to be rightfully compensated for their property.....with the coal value underneath it....and I'm guessing that the Park Service has no desire to pay that kind of value on land. I'm also guessing that the Park Service doesn't want to seize the property because then it goes to court and the right value of the land will be established, and it'll be alot closer to what Svonavec wants.

The locals all want the construction to start up.....involving $58 million at this point....which would draws crowds to the local area. So the owners are up against vast problems in fighting for the value of their land.

This is the problem that people have when you are dead set on a certain tract of land for use for a memorial or park. Once the owners realize your absolute desire.....they believe their tract's value has increased. So a simple plot of land that was valued at $100k last year....is suddenly worth $350k this year....at least in their eyes. Courts rarely agree.....and you tend to get offered $110k to end the conflict. In this case, with the coal below....the court is going to find a reason to offer what the company wants.

In this case....memorial will occur...the property will be seized.....and the owners will get paid a fair price for the land. It won't be near what some of them felt the property was worth...but this is the reality of the situation.