Work on a planned museum at the World Trade Center has ground to a halt because of a financial dispute, and there is now no possibility it will open on time next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
The underground museum commemorating victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was scheduled to open next September on the 11th anniversary, a year after the opening of a memorial at the site that has already drawn 1 million visitors.
But in recent months, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum foundation has been fighting with the Port Authority over who is responsible for paying millions of dollars in infrastructure costs related to the project.
The Port Authority, which owned the trade center and is building the museum, says the foundation owes it $300 million. The foundation says the authority actually owes it $140 million, because of delays in the project.
The dispute has been simmering for some time, and some details of the work slowdown were reported in November, but Thursday marked the first time that the mayor and other officials have acknowledged that the fight would mean the museum will not open in 2012.
"There is no chance of it being open on time. Work has basically stopped," Bloomberg said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on a recent radio program that the Port Authority was "on the verge" of suing the foundation, but both the mayor and the Port Authority said Thursday that negotiations over the matter continue.
"I'm sure we are going to work something out with the Port Authority," Bloomberg said. "They've got a difficult budget situation. I'm sympathetic to that." -- AP