NORTH ARLINGTON –
As the nation prepares to observe the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, North Arlington officials remain divided over how to deploy the section of World Trade Center steel beam the borough Volunteer Fire Department acquired from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Councilman Thomas Zammatore, a member of the Democratic majority, is proposing that the borough take steps to set up the firefighters’ memorial on a platform at the Schuyler Ave. firehouse by September, to coincide with the observance date.
The borough engineer has estimated the cost of a full-scale mounting of the beam to run $68,000, according to borough spokesman Thom Ammirato. A more practical approach, Zammatore has reasoned, is to put off the extras – such as granite monuments and paving stones – until the borough – ideally with help from local businesses and the Fire Department – can find the money to pay for them.
“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 [where it has been stored since its acquisition some three years ago] 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.”
At one point, the Borough Council had considered placing the monument in front of Borough Hall at a cost estimated at $12,000 but since then, a preference has apparently emerged for the Schuyler firehouse.
“Given the borough’s current budgetary constraints,” Zammatore said, “let’s start with a simplified plan that allows the borough to display the historic piece of the World Trade Center and be added on to in future years.”
Mayor Peter Massa, a Democrat, said he favored that approach. “Allowing the steel to languish in the DPW garage serves no purpose,” he said. “I think once people in the borough recognize that we have this iconic piece of history and want to honor those who died in the terrorist attack as well as the responders, it will be easier for us to raise money [through a borough-sanctioned fundraising drive] to complete the project.”
“We all have a stake in this memorial and we should all be willing to help finance it,” the mayor added.
Republican Councilman Richard Hughes, a longtime member of the borough’s fire volunteers, said that before he committed to anything, he preferred to hear from a committee of firefighters and elected officials who’ve been shaping the design for the memorial.
“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.
– Ron Leir