D-Day memorial creditors near agreement

Friday, March 7, 2003

BEDFORD, Va. -- The National D-Day Memorial Foundation and its top creditors said Thursday they will find a payment agreement that should pull the beleaguered monument out of bankruptcy protection.

"It hasn't been easy, taking care of this debt," said Clif Coleman, president and chief executive officer of Coleman-Adams Construction, the memorial's largest creditor with $1,961,701 still unpaid. "But we'll get our money in time."

With the agreement, foundation officials said they expect to pay the memorial's $3.9 million debt to their 40 creditors in five years.

Memorial president William McIntosh said he expects much of the debt to be repaid in 12 to 14 months, if donations pick up as hoped now that the bankruptcy is settled.

"When you're in a fragile situation, it's always difficult to convince donors that everything is going to be OK," McIntosh said.

The settlement calls for Coleman-Adams and memorial architect Byron Dickson to receive an additional bonus if they're not paid within 30 months, foundation lawyer Rich Maxwell said.

The $25 million memorial honoring the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II was in massive debt even before President Bush helped dedicate it on June 6, 2001.

In its rush to complete the sprawling campus of polished granite and bronze soldier statues, foundation officials built on borrowed money in hopes that future donations would pay off the mounting costs.

As donations lagged, the memorial's debt ballooned to $7 million in 2001.

Neither Coleman-Adams nor Dickson have been paid for their work on the memorial in a year. But both said despite the financial problems, they hope to continue to complete the monument in the future.

"I'm in love with this project," Dickson said. "I've spent 12 years working on it. I wouldn't leave now."

Maxwell said he will ask the federal bankruptcy court in Lynchburg to conditionally approve the settlement as soon as possible. The memorial's creditors would have to approve the settlement before the foundation is officially lifted from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In addition to the lingering debt, the memorial's troubles will continue until federal authorities decide whether or not to retry former President Richard B. Burrow for allegedly obtaining loans illegally to help pay construction costs.

Burrow's first trial for fraud ended in December with a hung jury.


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