STONE HARBOR—At a Borough Council meeting Oct. 15, it was announced that the original proposed site for the Sept. 11 Memorial has become yesterday’s news. Due largely to significant public opposition to the plans to build a “Point of Peace Memorial Park” at 123rd Street and Second Avenue, council will soon propose a new location to the County Open Space board.
Borough Councilwoman Joan Kramar, who also chairs the all-volunteer Sept. 11 Memorial Committee made the announcement, “On Oct. 11, the Stone Harbor Sept. 11 Memorial Committee met. There were 13 there that were on the committee. We met to discuss our future plans for the Point of Peace Memorial Park. We reconfirmed our commitment to provide a very respectful memorial for the victims and families directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”
A section of I-beam from the World Trade Center will be the focal point of the new memorial and Kramar was adamant in the council’s resolve to erect “a respectful memorial. We recognize that we are truly blessed to have received one of the artifacts released by the New Jersey/New York Port Authority.”
Speaking directly to the public, Kramar added that the committee is “quite aware of some opposition to the location and cost involved with the memorial park.” However, she also noted that the committee received “countless compliments on the location and design of the memorial” and “generous support from property owners and supporters of the project, many who live down at the southern end of Stone Harbor who have donated significant funding for this memorial.”
Notwithstanding public support, the committee recognized that in order for the project to move forward, it needed to “change both the cost and location, even after the committee was unanimous in selecting its location and design.”
After a “difficult and honest discussion” the committee decided to relocate the memorial to the grassy knoll on 96th Street between Second Avenue and Seng Place. That area is “borough owned and holds no environmental restrictions.”
Many of the same design elements already approved by the committee will be implemented at the new location, taking into account a respectable downsizing of size, scope and cost.
Scott Taylor from Taylor Design Group of Mount Laurel will provide the borough with a new design by the end of the month. The new design will be posted on the borough’s new website: www.shnj.org.
“We will be reaching out again to Open Space for funding and will proceed with our application once we have revised our plan and cost estimates,” Kramar said. In addition to any Open Space funding, the borough has already received over $30,000 in donations for the original location from property owners who support the construction of the memorial. Kramar stressed that each of the original donors will be contacted personally “to ensure that their donation may be used at the new location.”
“It is our attainable goal and expectation that the borough of Stone Harbor will have our Sept. 11 ceremony in 2014, our centennial year, at our new location with a completed memorial,” Kramar said. “We believe the decisions made by our committee continue to fulfill the desire of the majority of our borough residents to create a respectful memorial to pay tribute to the victims, families and friends who were directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. I guarantee you Stone Harbor will have a memorial that the entire borough (including the handful of individuals who opposed the original location and investment) can be most proud.”
Dan Brown, a resident who had been vocal in opposition toward the original proposal’s location of 123rd Street and Second Ave (essentially in his backyard), spoke to council. “I personally want to thank you for moving the location and downsizing the cost,” Brown said. “If there’s anything I can do to make the new location successful, I want you to know I’m available.”
Sister James Dolores of Villa Maria by the Sea also addressed the council. “I almost missed the meeting today and I thank God that I did not,” she said. “I would not have not wanted to miss this for I would have missed the very excellent presentation given by Ms. Kramar. I would like to congratulate and thank all of you for bringing this to a peaceful conclusion without keeping up the war. God bless you all.”
In a statement issued in a release, Mayor Suzanne Walters stated, “We listened [to the public], and we responded appropriately. Our community can now enthusiastically support the true goal of this memorial… an everlasting tribute to Americans and their families who were personally impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”