By Chantal M. Lovell Napa Valley Register
After two years of preliminary work and fundraising, Napa’s 9/11 Memorial Garden project is finally underway.
Work began Monday at the Napa Creek location, just east of Kohl’s department store in downtown. Crews from the city and Ghilotti Bros., Inc. started demolishing a brick patio where steel beams recovered from the World Trade Center will be erected in coming months.
Several large trees were previously cleared from the site in preparation, said the city’s project manager, Mark Tomko.
“We’re very excited to have started what we call the demolition portion,” said Napa Fire Marshal Darren Drake, who helped the city obtain the six steel beams that, together with four glass panels, will make up the memorial “We’re very excited that it’s underway.”
A portion of the Main Street parking lot east of Kohl’s was closed Monday for the work to protect vehicles and pedestrians. It could be closed during the day Tuesday as crews finish demolition.
The project began in late 2010, spurred by volunteers who committed to funding the $250,000 memorial garden. Fundraising proceeded slowly. In January, 2012, the city committed $120,000 from the public art fund to support the project.
As of Monday, the volunteer coalition still needed to raise $30,000, said group co-chairman Jim Asbury. A donor has committed $10,000 if the volunteers can come up with a matching $10,000. Donations can be made online at napa911memorial.org.
Within 30 to 60 days, crews will pour concrete footings for the 24-feet-tall steel beams. Later, the four glass panels that list the names of the 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001 will be put in place. A low wall will be erected on the site and the garden will be landscaped.
Local artist Gordon Huether designed the memorial structure, while local landscape architect Gretchen Stranzl McCann designed the garden portion.
The project is a public-private effort by the city and the Napa 9/11 Memorial Garden Coalition. The city is overseeing construction that is largely be handled by local companies that are donating their services. Ghilotti Bros. is one of several companies Asbury said has committed to donate its time and effort.
Organizers said this year will be the year the memorial will be dedicated. On September 11, 2011— the 10th anniversary of the attack — a small piece of steel was taken to the site and a service was held. Asbury said he hopes the memorial will be complete by July or August so it can be dedicated on September 11.
“I’m heading back down there shortly,” Asbury said Monday morning as he prepared to return to the site and watch the work. “I want to suck it all in because it has been a long haul for us and I want to appreciate every minute of it.”