The foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge for admission and is "exploring" a $20 to $25 fee to help cover operating costs, officials said Saturday.
While admission to the memorial will still be free, the decision to charge for the underground museum when it opens next year is being criticized by some relatives of 9/11 victims.
"I think it is despicable," said Massapequa resident Rosemary Cain, whose son George, a city firefighter, died in the 2001 attacks. "I really can't see how they can justify something like this . . . They are making money off my son's blood."
"People are coming to pay their respects and for different reasons," said Janice Testa, of Valley Stream, whose firefighter brother, Henry Miller Jr., died at the Twin Towers. "It shouldn't be a place where you go and see works of art. It should more be like a memorial place like a church that there's no entry fee."
Testa was visiting the memorial Saturday with relatives from Florida.
Foundation spokesman Michael Frazier said in a statement that the board decided last month to have an admission fee but didn't set the amount, noting that the board is still "exploring" options. He said families of 9/11 victims will not have to pay the fee.
Foundation president Joseph Daniels said operating costs are estimated at $60 million a year, and so far no federal funding has been secured to help cover those expenses.
Daniels said the museum will be free during certain hours every week and will offer student and senior discounts. Foundation officials had considered an optional donation but rejected the idea. "We decided that it's more fiscally prudent to have a straight ticket charge," Daniels said.
Bauer added that she didn't think the board's decision to charge admission "would be forever."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office did not return calls Saturday seeking comment.
Frazier said the nonprofit National September 11 Memorial and Museum has privately raised more than $450 million. More than $425 million in state and federal funding is earmarked for capital costs.
The museum's collection includes artifacts, pictures, audio and videotapes, personal effects and memorabilia, recorded testimonies related to the Sept. 11, 2001, and Feb. 23, 1993, attacks, according to the museum's website. The museum, built in the gaping hole left by the towers, will span seven stories, all underground.
The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, run by the National Park Service, doesn't charge admission. It is the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen who died during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack.