9/11 Memorial discussion continues…
The latest September 11th Memorial talks in Hoboken…
The City of Hoboken unveiled the conceptual plans for the City’s 9/11 memorial. A public hearing is scheduled for November 30th at 6 pm in the basement conference room of City Hall to discuss the proposal.
The proposed memorial is oriented toward the World Trade Center site and will have complete ADA accessibility. Lighting will be utilized to highlight the glass panels. The plan features two symmetrical, semicircular platforms, each one and a half feet high. Each raised semicircle would hold half of the glass panels. The two platforms with the panels would be representative of the twin towers. Because they are raised, visitors would have a place to sit and place mementos and flowers.
A beveled edge circumscribed around the interior could be etched with text as determined by the 9/11 Memorial Committee, the City Council, and the public. Thanks to the efforts of Fire Chief Richard Blohm, the memorial will incorporate a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. There would be no change in grade for the walking surface. This concept offers clear visibility through the site and would be inviting to visitors.
See previous 9/11 Memorial Discussions from way back in 2008 – after the jump…
For most of us, September 11, 2001 was the day when everything changed forever.
You know what that means, and that no matter how much is written or said about that day it can never be enough to describe the emotions we all felt. The 7th anniversary of that awful day is coming, and Hoboken411 will mark it accordingly. This post is not about that day and what followed in the world. It’s about the surprising (some would say shocking) admission that in the midst of an ongoing city budget disaster, Mayor David Roberts wants to borrow $4 million to pay for a third Hoboken 9/11 Memorial on Pier A.
Roberts: Can’t raise the money? Borrow and raise taxes!
By know we should be all too familiar with this script. Roberts proposes/supports a non-essential waterfront project that is supposedly at no cost/little cost to taxpayers.
Years later it balloons into a multi-million dollar bill to be paid by the public without a public vote. Roberts did it with the still delayed WWII Memorial and again with the Sybil’s Cave debacle. Then there is Pier C, conceived during the Russo Administration and ignored by Roberts so long that major pieces of the park had to be sliced off due to costs that skyrocketed while the Mayor fiddled elsewhere. (Remember the floating pool we lost?)
How did this get to be a $4 Million project?
Dave Roberts was in the Mayor’s office less than three months when the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble, taking with it the lives of 57 Hobokenites. In December 2001 he named a 15-member committee to decide on a memorial design “within a year and a half.” The Mayor made himself chairman, though a man named Rick Evans carried much of the heavy lifting. The original plan was to raise “between $250,000 and $500,000” for the project. On the first anniversary of 9/11 the Flame Memorial was unveiled, along with plans to plant the Memorial Grove of gingko trees on the northwest corner of Pier A.
In April 2003, the committee said more than 500 people donated a total of “approximately $50,000”, though that estimate dropped back to $30,000 by September (and stayed there for years). In addition, former State Senator Bernie Kenny secured a $500,000 state grant. The grove of trees donated by the U.S. Forestry Service was dedicated on the second anniversary of the attacks.
2004 Construction Estimate: $650,000 to $750,000
In March of 2004, as the committee narrowed ten proposed designs for the memorial down to four, the estimate of the project cost rose to as much as $750,000. Still, with the half-million dollar grant from the state and some money already raised the idea that the rest could be raised privately (without tax dollars or borrowing) was still in play. In June 2004 several people criticized the size and scale of the four final designs, and questioned whether they could be built for the advertised amount. Some called for a more modest, contemplative memorial. By the third anniversary of 9/11 the committee still hadn’t raised any more than $30,000 in donations. That’s roughly $10,000 a year. Then the price went up again.
2005 Construction Estimate: $1,200,000
Around the fourth anniversary, Evans was saying the price tag on the project rose to $1.2 million. He called on groups like the Rotary Club to raise funds for the cause, since they were barely “halfway” toward their goal. By the fifth anniversary in 2006 the city received Army Corps of Engineers approval to build the memorial in the Hudson, but like so many other projects overseen by the Roberts administration, nothing new has happened in over two years. Fast forward to today.
2008: Roberts wants to borrow $4,000,000
Now as we approach the seventh anniversary of 9/11 the construction costs have apparently skyrocketed yet again, and the Mayor is hungry for another ribbon cutting opportunity ahead of the May election. Roberts sent the council a cryptic communication expressing his decision to borrow money to pay for the memorial, but as you’ll see in the letter he never mentioned how much money. The $4 million number was reported in this week’s Reporter. The number has sent shockwaves among those who were told the 9/11 Memorial would be paid for through private donations and state and federal grants. Roberts offers no details other than he wants to borrow the money to pay for the project. Of course, he can’t do it without council approval. In theory he can’t do it without the approval of “The State” Department of Community Affairs either, but few people think the state will do much more than protect Roberts from the council and public for political reasons.
State money gone?
In the Reporter this weekend, Community Development Director Fred Bado is quoted is saying the city submitted requests to the state to aid in funding, but the money is no longer available. Whether that means the half million secured by ex-Senator Kenny is gone forever is a question that council members may ask at their meeting tonight. Evans is not quoted in the latest article. He worked for Bon Secours, which owned St. Mary Hospital before Roberts arranged a $52 million taxpayer bailout. It’s unclear if he is still in town.
Yet another opportunity squandered by Dave Roberts, whose fiddling with Sybil’s Cave, complete inaction on 1600 Park Avenue, 8-year delay for Pier C and still unfinished WWII Memorial are matched only by a budget that has doubled under his watch to over $100 million.
What do you think? Is it worth it to put Hoboken another $4 million in debt to build this memorial? Or would that money be better spent elsewhere, like going toward acquiring land for the proposed Southwest Park? Is it ridiculous to even consider spending that kind of cash when the city came into the year $11 million in the hole due to overspending? Post your thoughts below. Hoboken’s political players are reading them.