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No deal yet to buy land for 9/11 memorial

  • Story Highlights
  • Government may use eminent domain to seize land needed for 9/11 memorial
  • Hijacked United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
  • Federal officials say they hope to have first phase of memorial complete by 2011
From Kate Bolduan
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(CNN) -- The government is delaying legal action against Pennsylvania landowners who haven't yet agreed to sell their land for a memorial to victims of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, federal officials said Friday.

The National Park Service released a sketch of what the proposed memorial would look like.

This plot of land is scheduled to house the permanent United Airlines Flight 93 memorial.

The government has been negotiating with several landowners since 2003 in an effort to purchase their properties near Shanksville where the hijacked jet crashed into a field, killing everyone aboard.

If final efforts at negotiations are unsuccessful, officials intend to use eminent domain to acquire the property. That right allows governments to take private property for public use without an owner's consent, after paying a fair price for the land.

The government is seeking to buy 166 acres in western Pennsylvania to complete the area needed to build a memorial on 2,200 acres.

"The (National Park Service) will negotiate with the landowners to reach agreement. If agreement is not reached, eminent domain remains as a backstop to acquire these lands," said Kendra Barkoff, spokeswoman for the Department of Interior. See plans for the proposed Flight 93 Memorial

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, met with landowners and some 9/11 victims' relatives Friday in Somerset County, where the plane crashed into a field.

"The goal remains to finish phase one of the memorial by September 10, 2011," Barkoff said. "We'll try to negotiate with the families, but eminent domain has always been and will continue to be the last resort."

Landowner Randy Musser told CNN he is encouraged that the government is recognizing that the negotiations aren't working.

While the threat of eminent domain stills seem to be on the table, "it finally seems like the lines of communication are open," Musser said.

Producers Eric Fiegel and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

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