"My vision is to see the memorial at Exchange Place close to the location where volunteers did so much work," Cunningham said. He added the intends to rename the location "9/11 Plaza."
So far, Cunningham has commissioned a group of city officials, artists and citizens to develop a plan for a permanent tribute. The committee has opened up design ideas to any artist in the nation interested in contributing a plan.
Originally scheduled to be constructed by the anniversary of Sept. 11, the project has now been postponed until a date that has yet to be determined. Keeping the upcoming anniversary in mind, Cunningham said that the committee would plan a ceremonious event at Exchange Place to announce the forthcoming memorial. One plan being discussed involves placing two of the tallest steel beams in Exchange Place as a temporary memorial.
For now, the committee has begun its search for the memorial design that best represents the tragedy and the heroism that mark Sept. 11.
"[The idea] could come from anywhere," said Brian Dorf, a spokesperson for the mayor. "We're hoping that some world-class artists get involved."
With over 700 New Jersey residents killed in the attacks, city officials said that it is important that the steel sculpture, which is being erected in an area that has a clear view of the spot where the towers once stood, adequately represent the emotions, anger, and resolve surrounding Sept.11.
Project coordinator Greg Brickey said that the two dozen people have been working on getting the project off the ground, and separate committees are likely to form in the coming months to deal with various aspects of the project. "There's going to be an immense amount of work," Brickey said.
According to Brickey, the gallery at the main branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library on Jersey Avenue will house an exhibit of the design proposals in September and October. Shortly thereafter, Brickey said, a final design will be chosen.
To date, the search has started with Pro Arts, a Jersey City arts organization. Information about submitting plans appears on the group's web site, www.proartsjerseycity.org.
Leon Yost, another local artist working with the memorial committee, will also provide more information on the project for those interested in submitting design proposals. He can be reached at (201)432-3272.
"There are quite a few people chewing on designs already, just by word-of-mouth," Brickey said. "It's the design project of a lifetime, essentially. I think it's going to be pretty widespread."
Acquiring the material
States across the nation sent trucks to Ground Zero days before the site was officially cleared of all debris to procure scrap metal for similar memorials.
Because of Jersey City's proximity to the World Trade Center and the emergency services it provided on Sept. 11, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg allotted more tonnage to Jersey City than most municipalities that took steel from the city.
To obtain the steel beams, officials from the Department of Public Works spent 16 hours at the Ground Zero site filling out forms, getting clearance, and bringing the metal scraps back to Jersey City.
The DPW is now housing the eight steel beams that weigh between 70 to 75 tons total. Built in the early 1970s, the steel was coated with asbestos, a substance that has been deemed hazardous since then. The DPW plans to contact the state Department of Environmental Protection to test the steel for any other contaminants and assist in decontaminating the material before artists begin working on the project.
Other Sept. 11 memorials are being planned for Jersey City and Hoboken.
The Jersey City Museum on Montgomery Street will house some of the smaller steel scraps recovered from the World Trade Center in an exhibit scheduled for the anniversary of Sept. 11.
A separate committee has been formed to oversee a memorial sculpture being built in Liberty State Park. The completion date on that project has yet to be determined, but an initial $100,000 federal grant has jump-started the initial design process.
Also, the Mack-Cali development company is planning a memorial sculpture honoring local workers who aided in the rescue efforts. The sculpture will be placed adjacent to Harborside Plaza V, which is under construction.
According to Virginia Sobol, vice president of marketing and public relations for Mack-Cali, the building and sculpture should be completed by the end of the year. "The sculpture will likely show the image of an ironworker working in the rubble of the World Trade Center," Sobol said. Mack-Cali is working with the Jersey City Pro Arts Council on the project.
In Hoboken, a city committee has been soliciting proposals and funds for a memorial on Pier A Park on the south waterfront.