Simplified 9/11 memorial proposed

By Joe Phalon South Bergenite

It’s time to get the long-delayed September 11 memorial moving, North Arlington Councilman Thomas Zammator said. Four years after receiving the center piece of the memorial – a steel beam from the World Trade Center – and the proposed memorial’s location moving three times and costs going from $10,000 to $68,000, Zammator suggested the plan be simplified and set up in front of borough hall.

“It’s time to get this project started,” Zammatore said. “Let’s get the steel from Ground Zero off the floor of the public works garage and mounted so people can see it. We can worry about the other aspects of the memorial later as we work to raise money for the project.”

He has proposed placing the steel in front of the Schyler Avenue Fire House, but for now, putting aside more elaborate plans for it. That could be developed over time, he said.

In 2010, the borough received a piece of steel weighing 313 pounds and measuring 11 feet in length. North Arlington was one of 162 towns in New Jersey that received steel from the fallen towers. A condition of receiving the steel from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is that it be made part of a public memorial. The borough had originally hoped to have a memorial in place by September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers fought to retake the aircraft.

Several plans have been proposed, the most recent this past March, but the cost of creating a memorial around the steel has ballooned from about $10,000 to the current estimate of $68,000.

“That’s a tough nut,” said Zammatore of the $68,000 price tag.

He said he wants to get the beam out of the town garage, where it has been stored since 2010, and place it in a minimalist memorial for now that can be expanded as funds become available.

“Given the borough’s current budgetary constraints, let’s start with a simplified plan that allows the borough to display the historic piece of the World Trade Center and be added onto in future years.”

Mayor Peter Massa agreed. “Allowing the steel to languish in the DPW garage serves no purpose,” the mayor said.

The plan proposed in March called for the memorial to be constructed in front of the fire house. Originally pegged at about $36,000, the estimated cost of that memorial, in its finished form, now is estimated at $68,000.

In addition, the members of the borough fire department, which had made the initial application for the steel and took delivery of it in 2010, felt that the department had not been given a full voice in the decision.

“The fire department applied for that beam, and now it’s being taken away from them,” said Councilman Richard Hughes about a proposal to put it in front of borough hall. Hughes also serves as a borough firefighter.

He said the department had viewed the beam as part of a park adjacent to the Schuyler Avenue firehouse that would serve as a memorial to the first responders of that day, including police, firefighters, EMS as well as civilians who answered the call on September 11.

Hughes did not dismiss Zammatore’s latest proposal, but said he wanted to get more input from a committee of firefighters before moving ahead.

“I think that making any suggestion on a course of action before the committee has had a chance to meet would be premature at best,” Hughes said.

The first plan called for building a memorial at the soccer field at James Zadroga Park, where an informal memorial has been in place for many years.

Concerns with traffic and parking at the site from the police department, as well as concerns about access to the memorial – the borough soccer club locks the gates to the park when sanctioned games are no in play – slowed that proposal.

The fire department, Hughes said, prefers the spot next to the Schuyler Avenue firehouse, since the memorial, as proposed, was to be a tribute to first responders. He said the location the department had in mind has a view of lower Manhattan, including the new 1 World Trade Center, nearing completion. It’s also nearby the existing memorial in Zadroga Park, he added.

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