People visiting the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will be paying upward of $25 just to get inside — unless Laura Timoney gets her way.
Timoney, the wife of a retired NYPD officer from Brooklyn, has started a petition calling on the museum, scheduled to open in spring of 2014, to not charge an entry fee.
The foundation that is planning the museum had decided that operating costs would require a fee. Entry to the memorial plaza will be free.
Museum representatives declined to comment on the petition.
So far, the petition, which was launched last Wednesday on Change.org, has gathered 3,800 signatures.
“It’s quite bothersome that there’s a fee to see what I consider a national memorial,” Timoney told Yahoo News. “It’s all victim artifacts, it’s called the 'Memorial Museum.' I don’t think there is [a difference],” she added.
Although Timoney acknowledged that there is no fee for those who lost family in the attacks, she argues that the museum should be free for everyone. As an alternative, she suggested a voluntary donation.
She noted that both she and her husband, a retired police officer from Brooklyn’s 72nd precinct, lost friends and neighbors to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Paying to go to the museum, she said, makes it a "tourist attraction."
With operating costs projected to be around $60 million, which includes security, the foundation’s board voted to institute a mandatory fee, which will range from $20-$25, when the museum opens next spring.
"This is something that is going to be important and is going to be worth the expenditure," Joseph Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, told the Associated Press in May when the decision about the fee was announced.
"We decided that it's more fiscally prudent to have a straight ticket charge," Daniels said, and added that the board had decided against a voluntary donation. The foundation is considering free public hours on weekends.
“Our family has been looking forward to the opening of museum as a place where our community could gather to remember, grieve and honor our heroes," Timoney writes on the petition website. "The 9/11 Memorial Museum is really a National Memorial. You are not charged to visit any other national memorials like the Vietnam Wall, Arlington National Cemetery, or Pearl Harbor."
Maureen Morisano commented on the petition website, “As a NYC resident and a US citizen, I believe this should be open to all to pay respects for those we lost that terrible day.”
Petitioner Judy van Tijn posted, "As a history teacher, I think that memorials such as this are a critical part of our national identity and should be free to everyone."
The museum, which is under construction, will house artifacts from the events surrounding 9/11, including the memorial cross, made up of pieces of intersecting steel, and the Vesey Street stair remnant, the so-called "Survivors' Staircase." On 9/11, hundreds escaped from the Twin Towers by fleeing down this stairway.
The museum describes its mission as "the country's principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11's continuing significance."