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Station Club Site Owner Promises $2 Million and A Memorial to the Tragedy

By Newsferatu, Writer
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 @ 11:19 AM


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From the Boston Herald:

The owner of a Rhode Island property that was the site of the nation’s deadliest nightclub blaze will pay more than $2 million to the victims but a Ground Zero-like dispute is simmering over a memorial proposed for the vacant lot.

In addition to the multimillion dollar payout, Ray Villanova, owner of the land where the Station nightclub burned and left 100 dead Feb. 20, 2003, wants to donate the parcel for a memorial, according to a source close to the settlement talks.

Villanova’s attorney Jim Murphy of Providence confirmed a settlement has been reached but declined to discuss details. Asked whether his client will turn over the property, Murphy said: “Mr. Villanova has always expressed an interest and a desire to donate the land for a memorial.”

The Station Memorial Fund has been raising money and soliciting designs but nothing has been finalized as there is widespread disagreement over what to build. A similar dispute has slowed construction of a memorial to the Sept. 11 victims at Ground Zero in New York.

“As a survivor, it’s just crazy. They need to end this thing,” said Todd King, 38, who escaped the deadly Rhode Island blaze sparked by pyrotechnics during a concert. “There should be nothing but a memorial there. I find it hard to believe that this much time has gone by and nothing has happened.”

James Gahan III of Falmouth, whose 21-year-old son Jimmy died in the fire said: “I don’t know what they’re doing with the land. There are people who would like to memorialize the site. If it happens that’s a good thing.”

Settlements in lawsuits filed by 300-plus victims and survivors, meanwhile, have kicked into high gear in recent weeks as lawyers for both sides have been meeting with Paul Finn and Brian Mone of Commonwealth Mediation, the same firm that negotiated settlements in the Boston clergy abuse scandal. Plaintiffs will meet this weekend with a “special master” overseeing the federal suits.

In addition to Villanova’s deal, at least five other defendants have reportedly reached settlements totalling $19 million, including Luna Tech Inc., the Alabama company that manufactured the fireworks that sparked the inferno when they were set off by rock band Great White. LunaTech has agreed to settle for $5 million, according to the source.

In all, there are 90 defendants in the suit, including Clear Channel and Anheuser-Busch, both of which are accused of promoting the deadly concert.


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