Is 9/11 artifact headed to Wauconda?

 Daily Herald

A plan to display a steel beam from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers is taking shape in Wauconda.

An architect and proponents of the project unveiled a scale model of the proposed memorial and talked about the concept during Tuesday’s village board meeting.

The 19-foot-long beam would be the centerpiece of the memorial, which is being considered for village-owned land near the police station on Main Street south of Route 176.

The 13,000-pound relic would be displayed vertically on a pentagonal platform, which would represent the military headquarters in Washington, D.C., that also was attacked on September 11, 2001.

Walls and benches with inscriptions about the terrorist attacks would be included, too, as would a planter with soil from the Pennsylvania site where a fourth hijacked plane crashed, architect Ralph Schmidt said.

Organizers need to raise money to pay for the effort. A cost estimate hasn’t been determined.

The artifact is owned by a foundation created by former Gurnee Trustee Kirk Morris.

Morris was ill Tuesday and didn’t attend the meeting, so people working with him on the project spoke to the board instead.

“Monuments such as these are important,” said Ryan Yantis, a survivor of the attack on the Pentagon who is advising the group. “They provide a focal point.”

According to Morris’ records, the beam had been part of One World Trade Center, also known as the North Tower. That structure was the first building attacked by terrorists who hijacked airplanes on September 11.

Wauconda trustees were to consider approving an agreement to borrow the beam from Morris’ foundation Tuesday, but instead they delayed the vote two weeks to gather more information.

Several trustees noted they’ve heard rumblings of opposition in the community. All said they want to hear from any critics.

“I think we owe the public a little bit of time,” Trustee Lincoln Knight said.

Local business owner Maria Weisbruch raised concerns about security during the meeting. She also complained about a lack of resident input — even though representatives from the Wauconda Park District, veterans groups and other organizations have worked on the project.

“A lot of people are sickened by (the proposal),” Weisbruch said.

Mayor Frank Bart, an outspoken proponent of the memorial, urged trustees to support the project.

Organizers want to dedicate the memorial this September 11.

Morris initially wanted to create a Heroes of Freedom memorial in Gurnee.

That proposed memorial was designed to honor the soldiers from Lake County who’d served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Morris’ son, Geoffrey, was a Marine who died in Iraq in 2004.

Statues and other elements were proposed, and work began on a site in Gurnee, but the project wasn’t completed.

It led to a lawsuit between Morris and Gurnee that later was settled.

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