On a rainy day in October, the borough of River Edge welcomed a from the World Trade Center as members of the , and along with the traveled down to Kennedy Airport. And with the Council's permission, the 16-foot long beam could be moving closer to finding a permanent home for an Emergency Services Memorial.
On behalf of the PBA 201, Sgt. Curt Wilhelm and Officer Marc Abate presented their proposal, designed by local business , to create the Memorial outside of .
"We want the beam to be displayed vertically to show off the cut out cross because we can not invert it," Wilhelm said.
According to Police Chief Thomas Cariddi, when steel workers were removing the beams from Ground Zero, the workers cut out a cross from each beam and were donated to a victim's family.
During the 9/11 attacks, River Edge lost five residents Jennifer Fialko, Todd Ouida, Scott Rohner, Christopher Allingham and Bon Seok Koo. Since several of the families still live in the borough, the PBA was mindful of their feelings prior to receiving the beam.
"If the families were not comfortable with having it here, we would not have moved forward," Abate said.
"There were two families who were interested in having the beam at the Memorial Garden and two who were against it because they did not want a twisted piece of steel there," Officer Joseph Zemaites said. "The garden is a place to reflect and we even felt that the beam should not go there."
Instead the PBA felt that would be the best option because of the proximity to the and . Their second location was near the flagpole at the so that educational classes could be held in the library meeting room. A third option is 140 Kinderkamack Road at the south end of town, but there were concerns about the lack of parking for residents who wished to visit the site.
"Let It Grow will attach a concrete foundation with support plates to hold the beam," Abate said. The beam weighs 3500 pounds and needs additional support to be held vertically.
"The PBA secured this not only for the loved ones from town but also in honor of the police, fire and ambulance members who lost their lives that day," Cariddi added. "It's a testiment to emergency service members everywhere."
The PBA has set a tentative date of Memorial Day to unveil the beam to the entire town and will hold a fundraiser later this year to collect funds toward the creation of the Memorial. All costs related to the creation and maintenance of the Memorial will be covered by the PBA.
The Mayor and Council will decide at a later date on the final approval of where the Memorial will be located.