By Dubravka Kolumbic The Central Record
A township monument honoring first responders who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy at the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001 is another step closer to fruition.
Township officials unveiled their design choice for the monument, which will be placed at the Main Street fire station, at a recent council meeting.
Last October, the township received a piece of steel from the rubble of the World Trade Center which was destroyed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The steel was given to the township by the Port Authorities [sic] of New Jersey and New York. Since then, the steel piece has been housed in the lobby of the municipal building while a plan was worked out for its final resting place.
Township engineer Tim Staszewski’s brother was a first responder in New York on September 11, 2001. “To see how this affected (my brother) has really drawn me closer to this project,” Staszewski said before presenting the final monument design to the council and members of Evesham Fire-Rescue who were in attendance at the council meeting.
The location of the monument will be on an approximate 20 feet by 80 feet parcel of grassy area to the west side of the firehouse. Two trees will be removed to make room for the monument. The existing streetscape in front of the firehouse would be extended with a walkway leading up to the monument area and continuing into a patio area and seating wall surrounding the monument. Accent lighting highlighting the beam would be added, and the landscaping surrounding the area would be kept simple, according to Staszewski, so as “not to take away from the memorial itself.” Signage will also be added at the sidewalk, giving an overall description of the monument and its purpose.
The 13-foot-long steel artifact will be mounted vertically, rather than horizontally, saving space, but leading to logistical issues on how to safely secure it. Despite that challenge, Staszewski said he is confident a solution will be found. Mounting the steel beam horizontally, he said, “would not do the steel justice.” Sinking the steel beam into a concrete base has been done by other municipalities, but there was concern that would take much away from the beam itself. Mayor Randy Brown expressed concern that figuring out a solution for mounting the beam vertically would further delay the monument’s completion, to which Staszewski responded that would not be the case.
Continued maintenance of the completed monument area was also discussed. Evesham Fire-Rescue Chief Ted Lowden stated his department would take “full responsibility for it.”
Brown said the township is actively looking for corporate donations of materials and labor toward the project, which Staszewski estimates could cost $75,000 or more, depending on the type of finishes used. The actual construction of the monument area itself could be completed within a month, Staszewski said.
Brown stressed the need for recognizing by name residents who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy, either through the purchase of memorial bricks to be laid in the walkway or plaques that could be mounted to the sitting wall.
According to Lowden, Evesham Fire-Rescue plans to add a digital sign in front of the fire house at the same time as the monument project is being completed. The sign could be used by both Evesham Fire-Rescue and the township for communication of important information or events.The township hopes to have the final details on the monument project completed within the next few weeks.