The monument, a gift from Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, originally had been accepted by the City Council of Jersey City in December 2003 during the administration of late mayor Glenn D. Cunningham. However, some said it was too large for the waterfront.
Jersey City will still see a memorial at Liberty State Park, and there already exists a smaller memorial at Grand Street.
Last week, Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria accepted the memorial called "To the Struggle against World Terrorism," to be placed at the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne.
Initially in 2002, the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee had chosen a work by Cincinnati-based artist Voss Finn, which was one of the 63 submissions. They later opted for the Tsereteli gift instead because it would not cost the city money.
The move was controversial for several reasons, including the fact that selecting Tsereteli's monument negated the open submission process for a memorial. There was also disagreement over the artistic merit of the work, and many felt the statue was too large for the waterfront.
This past January, a letter was sent to Tsereteli from City Council President L. Harvey Smith, on behalf of the City Council declining the offer of the monument.
Sources close to Tsereteli said it was after this rejection of the statue that the artist's representatives contacted officials from other Hudson County towns about taking the statue.
Bayonne was the only town that accepted the piece.What else is still here and coming
The state will still construct a Sept. 11 Memorial at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, and will be dedicated to the 691 New Jersey residents who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks.
Last June, former Governor Jim McGreevey announced the selection of the winning design for the New Jersey 9-11-01 Memorial Design Competition. The winner was "Empty Sky" by Manhattan-based architect Frederic Schwartz. It will be located at the northeast end of the park, and will stand 30 feet high and 200 feet long. Composed of twin brushed stainless steel walls that will face one another, it will reflect the constantly changing light of day.
The memorial is expected to cost $10.5 million, and its construction and completion is expected in 2006.
Meanwhile, there's a temporary 9/11 memorial at the end of Grand Street, and also a 9/11 Memorial Fountain in Journal Square.
John Guarini, chairman of the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee, is working to get signed petitions that he will deliver to the Jersey City City Clerk, to put the issue of a new 9/11 memorial for Jersey City on a referendum in the election this May.
He also has a memorial in mind that would be created by Voss Finn, the man originally selected by Jersey City to build one.
As for Bayonne, their new statue, when installed, will stand approximately 100 feet tall from a granite base (about the size of a 10-story building), 21 feet wide, and 10 feet thick. Contained within the statue is a "grief tear" made of nickel-plated metal that weighs about four tons and measures close to 40 feet high.
There will be nine steps leading to a viewing platform at the 11-sided base of the monument. Engraved on the monument will be the names of the victims who died at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The statue was constructed in a foundry outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is now ready to be shipped to the United States, where, according to a press release, it is to be placed in a two-acre park to be built at the site of the former Military Ocean Terminal, to be renamed Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor. The monument will face in the direction of the former World Trade Center.
Tsereteli will pay for the cost of the installation in Bayonne and design the park where the monument will be placed.
There's a precedent
It wasn't the first time that a large Tsereteli creation was rejected by a government body.
In 1991, five U.S. states rejected a statue of Christopher Columbus that Tsereteli created for the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of America. This statue of Columbus was twice as high as the Statue of Liberty.
In Jersey City last year, the opposition continued to grow, as was evident at an April 25 meeting of the Harsimus Cove Neighborhood Association, where attendees spoke out against the monument.
Daniel Levin, then-president of the Harsimus Cove Neighborhood Association, said at the meeting that there should be "a deliberate approach to supporting a project that will make a lasting impression on the consciousness of not only Jersey City, but the world community."
Marian Greenberg, a Downtown resident, said during the meeting that the statue looked like a "giant vulva."
But supporters of the Tsereteli monument such as Tsereteli's representative in the United States, New York attorney Emily Madoff, and the chairman of the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee, John Guarini, also made themselves heard as they expressed the positives, such as Tsereteli's willingness to pay for the installation and his helping to bring together the United States and Russia.
For or against, everyone's happy
Mayor Jerramiah Healy said last week that he was happy that the statue found a new home in neighboring Bayonne.
"I'm happy that the statue has found a home, Bayonne is welcome to it," said Healy, who also talked about his objections to the statue.
"I really thought it was too large," Healy said, "and that enough constituents, especially of the artistic type, had substantial and, I thought, important objections to it."
But he said that the city was open to another 9/11 memorial.
Ward E Councilman Junior Maldonado said last week that he was happy that the statue was going to Bayonne, as he considers Mayor Joseph Doria a good friend. Maldonado said that he was not at the December 2003 City Council when the council accepted the statue, but that his opposition stemmed from his constituents voicing their opposition to the statue and from his own observation that the statue would block a substantial portion of the waterfront.
Peter Delman, a Jersey City resident for 30 years, was part of an ad hoc group that formed in opposition to the statue. He said he was satisfied to hear the statue would not be in Jersey City, but in an e-mail, he expressed some questions about Bayonne's acceptance of the monument.
"In a public process for a public monument, especially one of this scale and importance, the public must be included," he said. "Was there any opportunity for public comment in the Bayonne selection process? Also is there anyone on the memorial committee with a professional art background, from the State Council on the Arts or a major New Jersey museum for instance? Did Mayor Doria and the committee members ask neighboring Mayor Healy and L. Harvey Smith why they opposed the Tsereteli monument?"
Guy Catrillo, an employee in the Planning Department and a Jersey City native, was previously co-chairman of the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee until he stepped down last year. Catrillo said last week that Bayonne made the right decision to accept the monument and he wondered if those who opposed it for Jersey City understood what they were rejecting.
"It's not often that you get a work of this caliber as a gift," he said. "And especially considering that the artist was going to assume the cost of installation. I don't think people understand that it is nice to talk about a memorial, but to pay for it, how many people want to do that?"
John Guarini, a Jersey City native and a Bayonne resident who is currently the chairman of the city's 9/11 Memorial Committee, said last week that he was proud that Bayonne is accepting the monument and he planned to speak at the next Bayonne City Council meeting this week to commend the city.
Guarini also had some unkind words for those who had opposed the monument, such as Maldonado and some Downtown Jersey City residents.
"What's sad about this is that, as community minded as they want to be, I really believe that this was a tradeoff," said Guarini. "That they would knock down this memorial so that they could retain the park on Sixth Street."
Guarini was referring to the Sixth Street Embankment, located across from the Newport Mall, which the city would like to acquire to transform into a nature park and bicycle trail.