Besides just a memorial honoring the 12 Bayonne residents who died in the towers or in the remote woods in Pennsylvania, there had to be something to commemorate all of those who were affected by the disaster, including the remarkable and heroic police officers, firefighters, emergency workers, and ordinary citizens who helped out in the hours afterward.
Over time, the September 11th ... Bayonne Remembers Committee - under the recent guidance of Chairman Frank P. Perrucci - managed to get a location, a proposed park located at the very tip of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor over looking the place where the World Trade Center towers once stood. The memorial itself was going to be the next step.
Then, as luck would have it, Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, president of the Russian Academy of Arts, came to the rescue.
Mayor Joseph Doria had recommended the artist to the committee after receiving a call from New York U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton - after Jersey City had rejected the memorial.
"I think the space Jersey City had set aside for the memorial was too small," said Doria when reached for comment. "But in Bayonne, it will stand out."
At the March 16 Bayonne City Council meeting, John Guarini, chairman of the Jersey City Memorial Committee but also a resident of Bayonne, said a small group of artists from New York opposed the gift when proposed for the New York side of the Hudson River.
"Artists from Europe have always had trouble getting work sold or commissions in New York," he said. "When New York didn't want it, the memorial came to Jersey City. Those New York artists followed and joined up with a small group of local artists."
Guarini said the Jersey City Council initially embraced the gift, then later apparently responded to the lobby against it.
Perrucci said he always liked the memorial, even when he attended meetings when it was still being considered for Jersey City. "When it was clear Jersey City didn't want it and it was offered to us, I thought our committee should look at it," he said.
The fact that it is a gift from the Russian people and that it will cost the city nothing for its installation was additional reason to celebrate.
"I liked it, but I thought this had to be okayed by the committee, and it was," Perrucci said.
The memorial construction will break ground on Sept. 11, 2005. Perrucci hopes the construction will be finished by Sept. 11, 2006.
Council President Vincent Lo Re said he was thrilled with the gift, saying that he had admired other work by Tsereteli - especially the one on display in the UN which was a symbol for world peace. Tsereteli's work is on display in locations throughout the world including Rome, London, Moscow, Seville, Tokyo and, soon, Bayonne.
"This is a work by a world-class artist, and it will be a monument that people will want to come to see, not just from Bayonne, but from all over, including people in New York City," Lo Re said. "And since we want to attract people to the Peninsula, and we want to pay tribute to those heroes who did so much on that day, this is perfect."
The memorial is about nine stories high - a rectangular block with a cut down its middle and a 40-foot glass teardrop suspended in the cut.
"This is a tear of compassion, not a tear of fear," Guarini said.
The memorial will sit on an 11-sided black granite base with the names of those who perished in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. inscribed on it, as well as those who died in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
Tsereteli has also offered to design the park for the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the redevelopment of the former Military Ocean Terminal where the park is located.
Perrucci said the memorial committee, which had been raising funds for a memorial, would continue to raise money to cover other costs associated with the park and the memorial, such as the landscaping and pavers that might be used for more personalized memorials.
The proposed park site - which is located at the northeast corner of the former Military Ocean Terminal - is an asphalt parking lot serving a building that is slated for future demolition.
In other business...Land swap okayed
After delaying an ordinance that would swap a small portion of land with a property owner near the high school, the City Council finally agreed to the move, noting that the increased value would be a benefit to both the owner and city.
The city had proposed swapping two pieces of otherwise useless land in order to allow a property owner to legally own a driveway built through city-owned land. The swap would give the city a slightly larger piece of property that would connect to an already city-owned property nearby.
"This allows the property owner to legally own property where his driveway comes out to the street," said Council President Vincent Lo Re during an interview prior to the meeting.
The matter was put off from the Feb. 16 meeting after Councilman Anthony Chiappone questioned details of the deal, asking why the city didn't simply sell the land the way it did other tiny parcels of property too small to be otherwise developed. After being informed about the details prior to the March 16 meeting, Chiappone said he was satisfied with the situation, and voted to approve the land swap.
Don't go left!
The council voted to prohibit left-hand turns from an intersection near the high school from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. in order to reduce traffic backups. Traffic, according to Police Director Mark Smith, often backed up, affecting several other intersections and creating a general snarl up during those hours when parents are dropping off kids at the school.
"If this works, we may come back and ask to do the same thing in the afternoon," Smith told the City Council. Chiappone said as a parent dropping off kids there, he has always found that turn difficult.
Councilwoman Maria Karczewski asked if this could be limited to school days and eliminated during the summer, but since the police will review it later, changes can be made to the ordinance then. The council also introduced an ordinance that would authorize the director of Public Works, Parks and Recreation to adopt rules and regulations for fees and the use of the 16th Street Boat Ramp.
The city is considering lowering fees for the boat ramp use. If the ordinance passes at the April 13 meeting, the old fee schedule will be dumped and the director can develop a new, possibly lower fee that can be as low as a one-time $25. The fees are currently $15 per day, or $150 per season for residents and more for nonresidents. This could also mean eliminating the watch person at the launch, amounting to a $29,000 salary reduction.
With guarantees that the disposal of contaminated soils from the development of North 40 Park would require no more increases, the council voted to approve what they believe will be the last change order. While the approval was for $172,667, the amount of increase to the project was less than $600 because the changes also included offsets that will reduce the project's expenses as well.
North 40 Park, also known as Bayonne's Passive Waterfront Park Project, will include a bike path, bayside wetlands, and upland green space. The New Jersey Department of Transportation owns the parkland, and is leasing it to the City of Bayonne for a 99-year term. The state acquired the waterfront property decades ago for the construction of the defunct Westside Highway project. Once the state decided to complete the highway on the eastern side of Bayonne instead, the land by Newark Bay became available for other uses. Mayor Doria negotiated the lease of the property for park land in 2000.
The council also memorialized appointments made by Mayor Joseph Doria that included reappointing Paul Lotosky and Donald Pyke to the Rent Control Board for three-year terms expiring Aug. 11, 2007, and James O'Brien to the Red Control Board to complete the unexpired term of Morton Epstein.
The council also voted to approve the appointment of Joanne Carine to the Environmental Commission to complete the unexpired term of Marco Scarabaggio and Cara A. Monkowski as an alternate member.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org