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updated 6/16/2011 3:49:06 PM ET 2011-06-16T19:49:06

Visitors to the museum at the national 9/11 memorial could be required to pay an entrance fee of about $20, though victims' relatives will always be able to enter for free, the president and CEO of the memorial foundation said Thursday.

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Joe Daniels, the president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, told City Council members at a hearing that once the museum opens in September 2012, it must generate enough income to maintain itself and the memorial. Daniels has said that he'd prefer that visitors not be asked to pay an entrance fee, and he said Thursday that memorial officials are exploring whether the income could instead be generated through grants or suggested-admission charges.

If an entrance fee is charged, it would be comparable to ticket prices at other major museums in New York City, said Daniels, who noted that many of the institutions charge about $20. There would be discounts for school groups, he said.

Members of the public will be able to visit the 8-acre memorial plaza, to be opened to the public following the tenth anniversary commemoration of the attacks, for free.

In his hearing testimony, Daniels detailed plans to ensure that those with a stake in the site will be able to visit the memorial plaza despite restrictions that will initially limit the number of visitors at any given time to between 1,300 and 1,500 people.

There will be days set aside for first responders to visit, and the memorial foundation is working to include the volunteers who flocked to ground zero in those plans, Daniels said. And on the first Sunday of each month, from the opening date until January 2012, residents of the area surrounding ground zero will be invited to visit the plaza.

Daniels said that no victim's family member who wishes to visit the memorial on the tenth anniversary of the attacks will be turned away. Family members have been given a special phone number to allow them to easily make reservations to visit the site.

On July 11, the public will be allowed to begin making online reservations to visit the memorial after it opens to the public Sept. 12.

Also at the hearing, City Council members said they would look into local residents' concerns that there will be no public restrooms for the millions of anticipated visitors to the memorial for the first year that it's open. The restrooms planned for the site are to be housed in the museum, which won't open until the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

The memorial foundation does not wish to place portable toilets on the plaza, which is meant to be a place of respect, said memorial spokesman Michael Frazier.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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