New Paltz is getting closer to having a 9/11 memorial park. It will be located on the grounds outside Fire Station Two on North Putt Corners Road, where there is currently a “Tree of Remembrance” planted to honor 9/11 victims. That tree was planted by New Paltz resident Butch Dener and his friend, the late Carmine Liberta, in 2002. Funds were raised to place a commemorative plaque into the ground by the tree, and over the years, says Dener, he’s been touched to see how the spot has become a place where people spend time and leave mementos, especially around September 11.
“But we always talked about making a real memorial,” Dener says.
Last year, he worked with the New Paltz Fire Department to acquire an artifact from the World Trade Center site. While awaiting approval of their request, they learned that a police department in Rockland County had given the New Paltz Police Department a scarred and burned stanchion that had been out in front of the north tower plaza. And now that the New Paltz Fire Department is in possession of a piece of twisted structural steel from one of the beams in the towers, the two artifacts are slated to be mounted on pedestals in a formal 9/11 memorial park setting outside the fire station.
Dener is spearheading a fundraising drive to build the memorial, which he hopes can be completed by this September 11. If not this year, then next, he says, but with the community help he’s already enlisted he’s optimistic that it could be in place by this year.
Rick Alfandre of Alfandre Architecture has designed a dignified site plan that incorporates the mounted artifacts and a large flag of honor detailing the names of all who perished, to be displayed with the original commemorative plaque from the site. Kurt Wulfmeyer and Chris Powers of KC Fabrications of Gardiner have come on board to do the bases; they built the parapets at the National Memorial at the World Trade Center. The flagpole currently at the location will be removed for refurbishment and then returned by Allways Moving & Storage of Kingston. Mark Masseo of Masseo Landscape has also volunteered to work on the project, with a paved patio and landscaping with benches for contemplation in mind for the project.
All that’s needed now to go ahead with the project is funding. Anybody from the community who wishes to donate to the memorial park can mail a check to the New Paltz Fire Department at P.O. Box 656, New Paltz, NY 12561. “9/11 Memorial” should be written on the memo line. Donations are tax deductible.