Plan For Permanent 587 Memorial Slated For 11/12
Despite the controversial plan to remove the ad-hoc memorial wall that has sprung up at Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, the site of the November 12, 2001 crash of American Airlines 587 into Belle Harbor, it now appears that the wall will remain in place at least until the second anniversary of the crash.
In addition, Congressman Anthony Weiner, who has been negotiating on behalf of the community with family groups, said that he hoped to have a plan for a permanent memorial in place by the second anniversary of the crash.
"We have been meeting for over a year, and I fully expect that the group will be able to announce a plan for a permanent memorial that pays tribute to the memory of those who were lost, while respecting the character of Belle Harbor," Weiner said. "We expect that plan to be completed for the anniversary of the crash."
One plan for removal of the present memorial wall that has been floated by local residents is for the pictures, poems and personal items now on the wall to be removed at an anniversary memorial service by relatives. What is left after the service as well as the wall itself would then be stored at Floyd Bennett Field.
The plan to remove the memorial wall prior to the second anniversary sparked a controversy in mid-September and a press conference at the site held by a number of the family members of those who died in the crash.
At that time, family members demanded not only that the wall be kept until after the anniversary, but that a permanent memorial be built at the site some time after the anniversary.
"They should never build another home here," Lori Ann Albert, who lost her fiancé, Roberto and her son, Jayke, on flight 587. "That would be like building a home in the middle of a cemetery."
Construction has begun on the site on which the families would like to see a permanent memorial.
While there are three other sites available, in the immediate area, a number of family members expressed anger to The Wave that they were not provided with an option to buy the land first.
Many Rockaway residents, however, do not want a permanent memorial at the site.
City Councilman Joe Addabbo reflected those views recently, when he told reporters, "The fact is, some residents want the wall down and want the community to go back to how it was prior to the crash."
"We have to be mindful of both views," Addabbo added.
It may be, however, that the two views are so diametrical that even Weiner will not be able to come up with a compromise solution.
"My grandchildren have to walk past here every day on the way to school," one Rockaway resident who asked to remain anonymous told The Wave at the press conference. "It is too much. This is not a cemetery and it is time for all of this to go away."
"This is hallowed ground, just like Ground Zero in Manhattan," Hector Alagroba, who lost both of his parents in the crash said. "This is where out loved ones lost their lives."