Frank Perrucci, the chairman of the September 11th…Bayonne Remembers Committee, was upset when he heard that the 9/11 Teardrop Memorial on the waterfront would have to be moved as a condition of last summer’s sale of land to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
He was one of the people who had worked hard to get the monument located in Bayonne, but through an act beyond his control, the monument was to be relocated from its current location in Harbor View Park at the northeast tip of the former Military Ocean Terminal to some undetermined location.
So Perrucci did what he has always done when he wanted action – he began to lobby.
“It belongs where it is within site of the Twin Towers.” — Frank Perrucci
As a result, Perrucci received a letter on Jan. 20 from Charles B. McKenna, director of the New Jersey State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, giving assurances to Perrucci that the monument will not be moved any time soon.
“I have checked with representatives of the Port Authority, and they have assured me that there are no plans to move the Teardrop Monument. Thus, I hope this allays your fears,” McKenna wrote in the letter.
Perrucci said he could have jumped for joy, and interprets McKenna’s letter to mean the monument, created by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, isnt moving.
“Look at me,” Perrucci said, pointing to the big smile on his face. “This is what that letter means to me. I could kiss Chris Christie right now. I already liked some of the things he’s been doing, and now this.”
From Russia with love
The gift from Russia, a 100-foot-high monument called “To the Struggle Against World Terrorism,” was designed to help express the shared sorrow that the Russian people felt for those in the United States and elsewhere who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks.
Then-Russian President Vladimir Putin came to Bayonne in 2005 for the groundbreaking. Former U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton – a personal friend of the artist – attended the unveiling ceremony in 2006.
Although originally offered to Jersey City for its waterfront, the gift was accepted by Bayonne when Jersey City turned it down.
Perrucci said he had admired the proposed work when it was being offered to Jersey City.
“When Jersey City didn’t want it, and we were offered it, I thought it would be a good idea,” he said.
He said the size of the monument and its location are key parts of the tribute.
“It belongs where it is within site of the Twin Towers,” he said. “It faces directly between the Twin Towers.”
Made of steel and sheathed in bronze, the monument includes a granite base displaying the names of those killed in the attacks on 9/11, and those killed during the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The statue was constructed in a foundry outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. The government of Russia paid the cost of construction and shipment. Tsereteli, the artist, paid the cost of installation in Bayonne.
“If the city moves it, then taxpayers have to pay the cost,” Perrucci said, a fee he said would be astronomical, not to mention the potential for damaging the monument when digging it up from its current base. When shipped to Bayonne, the monument came in a number of pieces, with some of the crates weighing as much as 63 tons.
Gearing up for the 10th anniversary
Relocating the monument would be a legal headache for the city since the construction of the park for it involved state Green Acres grant money, Hudson County Open Space grants, and other state and federal money.
According to local officials, Green Acres would require the city replace the park with a park three times as large.
Also problematic are the 1,400 pavers that were paid for by residents and others with tributes to loved ones, which would have to be dug up and replaced at the city’s expense.
The monument’s reprieve comes as a critical time, since Perrucci said the committee is currently working on plans for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’re trying to get the Russians to come back,” he said. “We normally invite the governor, and we do hope he will come.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.