September 11 memorial in Carlstadt honors Grandcolas, Judge and Pycior

Kelly Nicholaides South Bergenite

Bold and uplifting, the September 11 memorial commands attention at Carlstadt Village Green Park on Broad Street.

The steel arms rise from a granite block, holding up the twisted steel beam of the September 11 memorial as Old Glory waves in the background at Village Green Park in Carlstadt.  Photo by Kelly Nicholaides

The steel arms rise from a granite block, holding up the twisted steel beam of the September 11 memorial as Old Glory waves in the background at Village Green Park in Carlstadt.  Photo by Kelly Nicholaides

Fourteen years since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the resolve, reflection, and respect remains unshakable.

“The September 11 memorial is another sign of the greatness of Carlstadt,” said Borough Operations Manager Joe Crifasi.

Located adjacent to the pergola along the Third Street section of the park, the memorial honors three individuals with ties to Carlstadt – Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, Father Mychal Judge and Joe Pycior.

They were among the 2,800 [sic – 2,973] who died, and Carlstadt has the distinction of losing one individual at each site targeted by terrorists.

Catuzzi Grandcolas was on United Flight 93 that was forced down in Pennsylvania. She was on her way back to California after attending her grandmother’s funeral in Carlstadt. Her grandfather was former Carlstadt Mayor Joe Jony, who was mayor in the 1960s.

“Her grandmother died, so Lauren was here for the wake and funeral, and she had stayed a little longer to help clean the house out,” said Mayor Will Roseman. “Who would have thought she would be dying? Her father, Larry Catuzzi had taken an active role in creating a memorial at the field in Shanksville, Pa.”

Father Mychal Judge was the spiritual guide for East Rutherford and Carlstadt residents who attended St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford. He was the New York City firefighters’ chaplain. The Franciscan friar, 68, died after being hit by falling debris while delivering last rites to a victim at the World Trade Center [sic – he did not – that is urban myth. He died in the lobby of Tower 1 when Tower 2 fell.].

Joe Pycior dedicated 22 years of his life in the Navy. Months away from retirement, Pycior, 39, was working as an aviations systems operator at the Pentagon when it was struck. He left behind his wife Terry, sons Joseph and Robert, and parents Joe and Arlene.

Carlstadt elected officials considered building a September 11 memorial for years, eventually applying for grant money to offset costs and making decisions on picture renderings, fonts, granite colors and pavers. Borough Engineer Greg Polyniak of Neglia Engineering said the basic plans called for a circular walkway of pavers and benches which face the stone memorial at the center. Documents show that in 2013, Neglia issued a proposal for surveying, engineering and construction management services, and a proposed park and memorial improvement conceptual site plan was submitted in 2014.

The monument was designed and constructed utilizing approximately $60,000 in matching open space grant funding.

The renderings were tweaked, as per council request. The governing body wanted a taller monument with the steel base at an eight foot elevation above grade. The monument would be 6 feet high as opposed to 4 foot 10, according to an Oct. 31, 2014, engineer’s report. Renderings depict four foot granite benches, 12 by 12 inch bluestone pavement around the monument and concrete pavers to match existing ones.

In addition to the September 11 monument, 30 plaques honoring veterans from the Vietnam War, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, World War I and World War II line the walkway around the memorial.

“Rev. Don Pitches and I were walking down there and looking at the trees, and we called it Village Green because the land always served a municipal purpose. First it was for a borough hall, then the first school in 1865 then Washington School in 1971, so it was always a municipal lot,” said Roseman. “We thought it would be nice to have each tree honoring someone we lost, so we decided to put plaques and monuments along the perimeter of the walkway.”

The steel beam had to be decontaminated before municipalities like Carlstadt could receive one.

“We were the first to ask for one, and they said, well ‘what do you want it for?’ I said we wanted to make a monument out of it,” Roseman recalled, adding that the Port Authority rule is that the municipality can never sell the artifact or give it away.

Of course Roseman says the borough’s intention with such memorials is always to honor the veterans as well as civilians.

It seems befitting for the little town that the New York Times called the most patriotic town in America, Roseman notes.

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