WTC Memorial Lawsuit Dismissed

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sept. 11 families seeking to stop construction of the World Trade Center memorial, saying designers thoroughly outlined their plans to build on the spots where the twin towers stood.

The group sued in March, saying plans to build part of the memorial on the footprints of the towers would destroy what is left of them. It accused the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the state agency in charge of the design, of breaking state law by not consulting properly with it during a federal historic preservation review process.

But state Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich said the corporation's efforts to consult with others "have been exhaustive and far beyond anything required by law."

The agency continues to consult with family members, she said, "in what can only be described as a commendable and sensitive manner, despite the fact that the obligation to consult ended long ago."

Her decision was dated Thursday, though both sides learned of it only on Tuesday.

The dismissal gives designers permission to go ahead with plans to pour concrete on the fallen towers' foundations, which preservationists have called prized historic resources.

But the entire memorial design is being rethought after contractors this month released a $1 billion construction estimate, twice the project's budget.

Officials have been considering major design changes to cut costs for the twin reflecting pools that would mark the towers, and possibly preserve more of the footprints.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. was pleased with the judge's ruling. "This is a victory for the public process surrounding the selection and design of the memorial," spokesman John Gallagher said.

Anthony Gardner, a member of the Coalition of 9/11 Families, said the group may appeal.

"No matter what happens, we are going to continue to fight against the LMDC to preserve the footprint remnants for the American people," said Gardner, whose brother was killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

The coalition sued days before preliminary construction began in mid-March, saying the agency hadn't told it until January how much of the foundations — where most of the remains of more than 1,000 unidentified victims were found — would be covered by the memorial and a museum.

But the judge said the agency had guaranteed since 2004 only that it would preserve the columns that surround the concrete slabs of the foundations.