2003-08-08 / Editorial/Opinion

Time To Think About A Memorial For Flight 587

Time To Think About A Memorial For Flight 587

In a few short months it will be two years since American Airlines Flight 587 augured into Beach 130 Street and Newport Avenue in Belle Harbor, killing all 260 people on the plane as well as five Rockaway residents on the ground. It was the second worst airplane accident in American history, and it deserves to be memorialized in Rockaway. Just last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Dominican Republic, the home of many of those who died on 587. He made it a point of publicly visiting the memorial to the victims of flight 587 in the town of Bani. At the memorial, he told reporters that he was "moved" by the experience and that he would like to see the memorial replicated in New York City. Most local residents, however, would not like to see the memorial replicated. Some of those want no memorial whatsoever; others are willing to support a small plaque in the street at the site. Others would accept a larger memorial, but off the site of the crash itself. A quick and unscientific check of other air crashes found that the major Brooklyn crash in the early 1960’s is memorialized with a plaque in the street where one of the planes came down. When we checked with the mayor’s office in Cove Neck (Long Island), the scene of a major crash a few years ago, we were told that the street names in the area were changed to make it more difficult to find the site. Rockaway’s memorial can be anywhere in between, but it is clear that it’s time to coalesce around a memorial because a memorial is called for. We would suggest two options to both locals and the families of those who died on the plane. The first is a plaque at the corner of Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, ala Brooklyn. The second is a larger memorial, ala Bani, on the bayfront at Beach 129 Street, where there is more than ample land for such a memorial. Rockaway should act to approve a memorial before the mayor, who likes to have his way, takes a piece of land that is now vacant at the site through eminent domain and forces a large memorial on the community. If you think that cannot happen, light up a cigarette and go to the beach for a nice evening swim.

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