Judge rules panel correctly valued Flight 93 site in Pa.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A commission assigned to assess the value of the site of the Flight 93 memorial correctly calculated it at about $1.5 million, a federal judge in western Pennsylvania has ruled.

The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose comes in a dispute over the property’s value between its previous owner, Michael Svonavec, who had wanted to turn it into a museum, and its current owner, the federal government.

Judge Ambrose rejected arguments from both, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Svonavec had argued in a lawsuit it was worth about $23 million. He asked Judge Ambrose to recall the commission, change several parts of the analysis and calculate a value of at least $5.7 million.

The U.S. Department of the Interior condemned the 275-acre site in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, in 2009 and paid $611,000 for it, and officials had asked the judge to lower the value to that amount.

In December, a three-person eminent domain commission appointed by the judge in a dispute released its valuation for the site.

The National Park Service said about 320,000 visitors went to the site in 2012, the first full calendar year after a permanent memorial was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it crashed after passengers fought back against hijackers during the Sept. 11 attacks.

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