Clueless officials approve traffic light inches from Putnam County 9/11 memorial

Melissa Klein and Stephanie Pagones NY Post

Clueless state officials OK’d the installation of a new traffic light inches away from a memorial to fallen 9/11 heroes.

Residents of the Putnam County town of Carmel last week were horrified to discover that a flagpole had been relocated and replaced with the base of the light pole — an ugly concrete footing — just days ahead of the yearly vigil marking the tragic anniversary.

“It’s disgraceful what they did,” said town supervisor Kenneth Schmitt.

The base for a traffic light (bottom right next to Carmel’s 9/11 Memorial. Photo Angel Chevrestt

The base for a traffic light (bottom right next to Carmel’s 9/11 Memorial. Photo Angel Chevrestt

The polished-stone monument in Cornerstone Park honors eight Putnam County residents killed in the terrorist attacks — five city firefighters, one NYPD officer and two civilians working in the Twin Towers. A cross made of steel recovered from the World Trade Center graces the concrete base of the monument.

The memorial is in the center of town and was built with private donations shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“Some of the families never recovered their lost ones. This is like their spot,” said retired NYPD Sgt. James O’Neill, co-chairman of the Putnam Heroes Memorial.

O’Neill alerted town and county officials last week as soon as he learned of the construction work by a state Department of Transportation contractor in the park, which is owned by a conservation group and leased to the county.

“It’s crazy. Who would even come up with that design?” O’Neill said.

The existing traffic light is tethered to a pole on the sidewalk outside the park. It is being replaced because of its age.

The state DOT suspended the project at the request of town officials and by Friday said it would remove the concrete footing.

“We apologize for regrettably placing a traffic signal pole within the walls of the Putnam County 9/11 Memorial,” said William Gorton, a regional DOT director. “The site will be fully restored to its original condition in time for the observance of 9/11.”

The agency would not comment on how the mistake happened.

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