By Brittany Lyte Greenwichtime.com
It took nine years for Greenwich — the Connecticut municipality with the highest death toll from 9/11 — to erect its memorial. Now it appears the project is still not complete.
The town is working to replace the bronze plaque inscribed with the names of the 26 people with ties to Greenwich who died in the September 11 attacks because three of those names are misspelled on the monument.
“Oh, my gosh, really?” said Ondina Bennett, who said she did not know her son’s name is misspelled until a reporter called her at her home in Old Greenwich Monday afternoon.
The erroneous “I” in the first name of her son, Bryan Craig Bennett, is ironic, Bennett said. The 25-year-old world traveler, who worked in sales for eSpeed, had a habit of noting to strangers the somewhat uncommon spelling of his name.
“He always would say, ‘Bryan with a ‘Y,’” Ondina Bennett said. “All the time.”
Dedicated in 2010, the memorial at Great Captains Island features a bronze plaque inscribed with the victims’ names separated into three columns. The plaque is mounted on a marble slab set beside the lighthouse. Visible to the west of the memorial is the New York City skyline.
The memorial’s realization was riddled with complications: Delays caused by a $1.3 million lighthouse renovation project; debate over an initial plan to only include the names of town residents on the plaque; inaccessibility of the site during the nine months of the year that the town ferry is out of service.
Town leaders eventually agreed to include the 12 resident victims as well as 14 other people with ties to Greenwich. Three of those names — Bryan Craig Bennett, Bennett L. Fisher and Edward Francis Maloney, III — are misspelled, and it wasn’t until this week that some of their family members learned about it.
Most relatives interviewed for this story said they would like to see the spelling of their loved one’s name corrected. But none of them said they are upset.
“It doesn’t change the man,” said Susan Fisher, who was married to Bennett L. Fisher, a 58-year-old senior vice president at Fiduciary Trust.
Fisher’s first name is incorrectly spelled with a single “T” on the plaque.
First Selectman Peter Tesei said the town worked closely on the memorial project with Mary Ann Morrison, a former Chamber of Commerce executive director who lead grassroot efforts to build a memorial.
“The town bent over backwards,” said Tesei, clicking open an email from July 12, 2010, in which Alan Monelli, Greenwich’s superintendent of building construction and maintenance, discusses uncertainty over the spelling of Bryan Craig Bennett’s last name.
In the email, the name is spelled “Brian Bennet.”
“If there are errors, they should be fixed,” Tesei said. “But they weren’t made by the town. They were made in the copy that was given to us.”
He added, “The irony is — and I don’t mean to minimize the significance — but I received a plaque from a group once and they handed it to me and they had put two T’s in my name. Sometimes it’s carelessness. I don’t know what else to say.”
The memorial is a gift to the town from the Greenwich Community Projects Fund, of which Morrison is a leading member.
Morrison said she was diligent in checking name spellings. But she says she might have made mistakes.
“It could have been me,” she said. “I checked the names, but I’m a human being and human beings make mistakes.”
GCPF will pay to replace the plaque with one that includes correct name spellings, Morrison said. The group is working with Monelli and Parks and Recreation Director Joe Siciliano to determine how much it will cost to replace.
Morrison estimated the cost at a few thousand dollars. She said she hopes the memorial will be outfitted with a new plaque in time for the 14th anniversary of the attacks.
GCPF has also committed to raising three-quarters-of-a-million dollars for a new memorial overlooking the Mianus River at what will be the new Cos Cob Power Plant Park. The project was born out of concerns from victims’ families that the island-bound memorial is too remote. Backers of the project say the town should have a memorial that’s accessible 365 days a year.
Morrison said the names on the planned memorial in Cos Cob cannot be easily changed once they are on it.
“We are reaching out to all the families that we have contact information for, saying, ‘This is how we have your loved one’s name, is this how you want it?’” said Morrison.
Sally and Edward Maloney said they have not seen the plaque that bears the name, albeit misspelled, of their son, Edward Francis Maloney III.
Sally Maloney said she’s shocked at the error. But neither she nor her husband are upset.
“There are memorials all over the place,” said Edward Maloney. “There is a hockey rink with my son’s name on it. There are lots of things that were done for my son and for all the other guys and gals that were lost. If somebody had an extra ‘L’ on a memorial in this day and age, I’m not upset about it. Good workmanship is hard to find. I sat home on the phone for three days with Verizon FiOS. Now that’s something to get upset about.
“They got it right down on Wall Street and they got it right at Sherwood Park and they got it right in Rye. So if they got an extra ‘L’ over on Great Captains Island, which nobody can get out to anyway, I don’t have a problem with that.”