By Steven Rodas The Jersey Journal
Hundreds of memorial pavers that surround the September 11 “teardrop” memorial on the Bayonne waterfront will be torn up as part of a $50 million makeover at the cruise port there, say a group of outraged residents who look after the memorial.
Frank Perrucci, chairman of the September 11 Bayonne Remembers Committee, was stunned Friday when he found out about the construction plans.
“I was very upset when I was told,” said Perrucci, whose group tends to the memorial. “We’re talking 250 to 300 pavers.”
The cruise port makeover includes a new Cape Liberty Cruise Port terminal building, a parking garage, an overflow paved parking area and berth improvements on land owned by Port Authority, according to a Port Authority resolution approved in July. The cruise port opened in 2004.
The new berth would be used to accommodate the $950 million cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, which would be based in Bayonne year-round beginning in November.
Perrucci and other committee members are upset that they were not warned about the project and what it entailed.
“We should have been told since the paver of someone may be removed and that person’s loved one may decide to visit,” said committee member Jerry Kelly, who organized the creation and installation of the pavers. “We have people to answer to.”
Apparently the city was caught unaware of the start of the project as well.
Bayonne spokesman Joseph Ryan said contractor “didn’t get permission or authorization” and preliminary work was halted Friday.
Perrucci said he was told by workers at the site that the construction project would cut through a portion of Harborview Park — where the “To the Struggle Against World Terrorism” memorial is located — and would mean the “temporary” removal of about 300 pavers.
The memorial is not expected to be affected. Perrucci was told the pavers would be put back into place when the construction is complete in May.
The pavers are inscribed, some with the names of people who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks and others with messages.
Officials from the Cape Liberty Cruise Port could not immediately be reached for comment on the project. Ryan said work will not start again until approved by the city.
According to the Port Authority resolution, the cruise port’s 23.3-acre footprint at Port Jersey is being reduced to approximately 11.5 acres — 8.9-acre cruise terminal and an approximately 2.6-acre parking garage structure.