Howell resident’s plea for 9/11 upkeep to be answered

By Dan Radel Asbury Park Press

The Howell Memorial -- staff photo

The Howell Memorial — staff photo

HOWELL – The township will have a formal 9/11 memorial ceremony this year at a well-maintained monument commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks after a resident brought attention to what she called “deplorable” conditions there.

“These people who lost their lives in Howell are our neighbors. It’s really sad we let it go like this,” said Barbara Dixel, 74. She said the Preventorium Road memorial has become overgrown by weeds. “This site has to be brought back to its original condition.”

Township officials said this week that crabgrass had taken root around the memorial and weeds at the property had grown several feet high.

She requested the township have a grounds crew restore the landscape and hold a rededication ceremony this September 11.

“Please give it the proper respect it deserves,” Dixel said.

Dixel brought her concerns to the Township Council at their Aug. 12 meeting. Mayor William Gotto said the council was not aware the memorial’s upkeep had fallen behind.

“We seem to make a big deal of the 9/11 Memorial not as often as we should,” Gotto said. “Maybe we should be doing a little more.”

Gotto said their last formal ceremony was on the 10th anniversary in 2001.

On Wednesday he had building and grounds employees from the Public Works Department do groundskeeping at the memorial.

“The weeds had gotten out of hand,” Township Manager Jeffrey Filiatreault said. “A wild rye or something like that grassy-looking plant was growing chest-high. Luckily, it pulls out easy.”

Filiatreault said it will take two more days’ labor to eliminate the invasive growth of crabgrass and the weeds. He said the memorial does have a routine spring cleaning.

The memorial was dedicated in 2005 with a cost of about $150,000.

The central focus of the memorial is five arches that represent each Howell resident who was killed. The arches meet at the top and form a pentagon in honor of those who lost their lives in the attack at the Pentagon.

The floor is made of black and gray stone engraved with the World Trade Center’s twin towers. A pedestal contains a piece of the World Trade Center. Around the memorial are marble plaque inlays with the names of the more than 3,000 Americans who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It is located on the old Town Hall property, which has not been in use for about 3 years since a new administrative building was constructed on Route 9.

No formal rededication is in the works, but Filiatreault said Monday the mayor and council have begun to organize a “low-key” ceremony for the September 11 anniversary commemoration this year with a moment of silence and the ringing of a fire engine bell.

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