October 23, 2021

‘In spirit, they’re not down’

Artist recreates Twin Towers for 9/11 memorial

Photos by Dan Lyon/contributing photographer

Public works employees Brian Horner and Lawrence Hill III make room for a new 9/11 monument in Courthouse Park on Tuesday afternoon.

LITTLE YORK — Tino Ferro recalls seeing the Twin Towers being built in the 1960s and 1970s. He recalls working in his shop on Sept. 11, 2001, when his wife, Carole, came in and told him the towers had been hit by jets; he then saw the image on TV. Now, 17 years later, he has a part in seeing the towers go back up.

This time the towers will be part of a 9/11 memorial that will sit at Courthouse Park in Cortland.

“I saw the two coming down in reality, but in spirit they’re not down,” Tino Ferro said.

Ferro was commissioned to do the project. Other than the $5,000 used toward material and equipment to move the structure, Ferro is donating his time.

For the past six weeks, Ferro has welded the collective 22-foot-tall, 4-ton structure from materials recovered from the towers.

Materials include rebar, connectors to girders, plumbing and gas pipes, parts of a sprinkler system and wiring. The material was obtained through the Trolley Museum of New York, in Kingston.

Once complete, the memorial will include representations of the other two sites of the 9/11 attacks — the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. The base would be in the shape of a pentagon, with a bronze plaque in the outline of Pennsylvania, where the plane crashed as passengers attacked the hijackers.

When approached by city Deputy Chief Paul Sandy and community-oriented Police Officer Jesse Abbott, Ferro had three conditions:

• He’d not work with a committee.
• He’d need money in advance for the material and equipment.
• He’d work with only one of the two officers — Sandy or Abbott.

However, things changed. “I became fond of both of them (Sandy and Abbott),” he said.

Ferro sees the project as emotional and spiritual. Not only is he working with pieces of a structure involved in one of the nation’s deadliest terror attacks, but pieces that became entwined with the lives lost.

“That’s why I’m doing it,” Ferro said. “Those people who perished weren’t hurting anybody.”

Ferro expects only two more weeks of work. At Courthouse Park, workers began digging the monument’s foundation around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Excavators moved dirt as dump trucks hauled it. Friday crews plan to pour concrete.

Local artist Tino Ferro has spent the last six weeks working on a sculpture memorializing 9/11. Ferro is creating the monument out of pieces left from the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City.

Ferro’s portion of the memorial, the two towers, is expected to be complete in two weeks. After that he said he’d be ready to install them.

The monument has been in the works after it came up in conversation a year ago at the city police’s annual bicycle auction as Abbott chatted with Sandy and Alderwoman Michelle Mastropolo (D-1st Ward).

Once completed and sitting in Courthouse Park, Ferro hopes the memorial gets people to think. “That’s what art is supposed to do — make us think,” he said.

Fundraising for the project is going well, said Sandy this morning. Around $16,000 was needed for the memorial. “It’s been met and exceeded,” Sandy said.

Bricks, which can be personalized, are being sold to raise part of the funds. A hundred bricks at $100 a piece have been sold, Sandy said.

If people want to buy bricks they can go to the memorial project website and follow the directions.