October 25, 2021

9/11 monument sought for city park

Organizers seeking $16k

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

City police and fire officials — from left, Officer Jesse Abbott, Fire Chief Charles Glover, Deputy Police Chief Paul Sandy and Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Friedman — discuss possible designs Tuesday for a 9/11 monument at Courthouse Park in Cortland.

CORTLAND — Nearly two years after joining the Cortland City Police Department, Jesse Abbott attended a funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for New York City firefighter Kevin Bracken, who was among those who had died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Abbott said the emotions of the tribute to the brother of Bill Bracken, a Cortland County Sheriff’s Department office , stayed with him over the years.

The lack of a monument came up in conversation in June at the city Police Department’s annual bicycle auction as Abbott, now the city’s community-oriented police office , chatted with Deputy Police Chief Paul Sandy and City Council member Michelle Mastropolo (D-1st Ward).

They agreed the city of Cortland needed to do something to honor those who died on 9/11. They began to formulate a plan.

The city Common Council is expected to consider on March 6 a request they and other organizers made to place a $16,000 9/11 monument alongside others in Courthouse Park that commemorate those who died in the nation’s wars. The land is owned by the city.

They hope to have the memorial dedicated Sept. 11. While many years have passed since the terrorist attacks, Abbott said it is still important to create a local memorial.

“As I’m getting older, a new generation is coming around,” he said. “We don’t want future generations to forget.”

Abbott said the effects of the attacks continue to be felt.

“Unfortunately, we are still battling everything that happened that day — terroristic events, we are losing emergency workers to cancer,” he said, noting 1,400 emergency workers are believed to have died from carcinogens they encountered at the site of the World Trade Center.

Tino Ferro, owner of Frog Pond Farm Art Gallery in Little York, has been commissioned to build the monument from pieces of metal found at the World Trade Center site, including plates that held I-beams together and pieces of rebar. The pieces were obtained through the Trolley Museum of New York, located in Kingston.

“The biggest thing was fin – ing the material,” Sandy said. “It had been so long.”

He said he had heard that a museum in the Kingston area had some parts of the World Trade Center and tracked it down to the Trolley Museum, which had a rail car full of parts, as well as damaged vehicles.

“It was a lot of pieces,” Sandy said. “We said we could get a sculptor to create a monument.”

Ferro’s work is expected to cost $5,000 — to be paid by donors — which Abbott said was a very good deal for the more than 11-foot towers that Ferro will create rising from a field of debris at the base of the monument.

In addition to the towers, the monument will recognize the other two sites of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The base of the memorial will be the shape of a pentagon, in recognition of the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A bronze plaque will be made in the shape of the state of Pennsylvania, where a plane hijacked that day crashed as passengers stormed the cockpit to take back the aircraft. Lighting and benches are also planned.

Mason Mike McKinney is donating his time to create the base, while organizers will pay the undetermined cost of the concrete, Abbott said.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $16,000, which will be raised through the sale of commemorative bricks. There is not expected to be any cost to city taxpayers. The city Police Benevolent Association is coordinating the project and the raising funds.

Project organizers want to get the community involved through buying bricks, and seek the support of police, fire and paramedic agencies, and fraternal organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions and Disabled American Veterans posts.

Abbott noted at the Feb. 20 council meeting that SUNY Cortland has an annual ceremony marking the anniversary of 9/11 and the eight alumni who died that day. He said this week that he hopes the college could join the city in marking the anniversary in years after the city monument is erected.

“I want to reach out to them to see if they want to do a collaborative effort on this memorial,” Abbott said.