The National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York is flush with cash, but not bathrooms.
The nonprofit foundation running the US$508 million project is expecting millions of visitors from across the globe to flock to lower Manhattan when it opens this year on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
But there will not be a single restroom available on the eight-acre green plaza – a planning oversight now raising concerns in closed-door meetings, the New York Post reports.
Two large reflecting pools and cascading waterfalls on the site are intended to create a serene environment for quiet contemplation of the lives lost during the terror attacks. They may also be a frustrating reminder there is nowhere to relieve oneself.
The closest bathrooms available will be inside the discount department store Century21, across the wide 16-acre plaza on Cortlandt Street. Employees there fully expect a flood of visitors dashing to its basement-level stalls.
“Every time they have something for 9/11, we expect a crowd at our bathrooms,” said a store manager.
“When president Obama visited, we had extra staff at the bathrooms to accommodate the crowd. We know we’re going to have to make adjustments when they open the memorial,” the manager added.
City Hall officials conceded that bathrooms were left out of the plans for the memorial, which will feature the names of the 2,982 victims of the World Trade Center attacks inscribed on bronze panels around the reflecting pools. They said there are also no plans to haul porta-potties to the picturesque, tree-filled site for its official debut.
“Visitors will be provided with information to help plan their visit, including being advised that bathrooms will not be accessible on the site,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s spokesman Andrew Brent said.
The museum – which will reach seven stories underneath the memorial plaza – will be equipped with toilets, according to City Hall. But it is not scheduled to open until fall 2012.
Memorial officials said that because visitors during the first few months will sign up in advance for a “timed ticket” that gives them a pre-scheduled appointment to the plaza, they will have ample time to prepare.
“It was absolutely critical that we open the 9/11 memorial for the 10-year anniversary, and that commitment is being met,” said memorial foundation board member Julie Menin.
“Bathroom facilities will be provided in the museum when it opens a year later. We hope that tourists will not just visit the memorial but will go to many stores, restaurants, museums and other sites downtown.”
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