2003-10-17 / Community

A Model For A Rockaway Flight 587 Memorial?

By Howard Schwach
A Model For A Rockaway Flight 587 Memorial?

A Model For A Rockaway Flight 587 Memorial?

By Howard Schwach

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Dominican Republic a few months ago, he was taken to Bani, a major city on the coast, southwest of Santo Domingo, where many of those who died on American Airlines Flight 587in Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001 were either born or had lived prior to the crash.

Spurred by the relatives of those who had died in the crash, and coordinated by Hector Algarroba, whose mother and father, Hipolito and Ubencia, were among the 260 people who died on the plane, a monument had been built in Bani honoring those who died.

Bloomberg said after his visit to the Bani monument that he was "moved" by the visit and that he thought there should be a similar monument in New York City.

And, while Bloomberg did not say at that time he wanted the monument at the crash site in Rockaway, he reportedly has been lobbying behind the scenes for a Rockaway memorial.

The mayor’s office declined to comment on the reports, other than to say that the mayor was interested in seeing a suitable memorial to those who died in the crash in New York City.

Many of the relatives agree that there has to be a New York City mem-

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orial and that it should be in Belle Harbor, at the site of the crash.

A number of family members, who asked not to be identified be­cause they fear they will anger Belle Harbor residents, told The Wave at a September press conference at the site that they were angry that the plot of land on the corner of Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, which was owned Helen and Tom Concannon, both of whom died when the American Airlines Airbus A300 plunged into that corner, was recently sold for a new home. Construction has begun on that home.

"They should never build another home on that property," Lori Ann Albert, who lost her fiancée and her son on the flight, told The Wave. "That is like building a home in the middle of a cemetery."

"This is hallowed ground," Hector Alagrobba added, pointing at the site and likening it to Ground Zero. "This is where our loved ones lost their lives. We should have been offered a chance to buy that property prior to its sale for a new home."

Congressman Anthony Weiner had held many meetings with family meetings in an attempt to come to some sort of compromise.

He thinks that a compromise that would be acceptable to both the families and the Belle Harbor residents, many of whom do not want a memorial at the site, can be an­nounced on the second anniversary of the crash.

"I fully expect that the group will be able to announce a plan for a permanent memorial that pays tribute to those who were lost, while re­specting the character of the Belle Harbor community," Weiner said.

One plan that is being pushed by local residents and may be acceptable to some family members is to place a sidewalk plaque at the corner and then plan a memorial such as the one in Bani at the bayfront at Beach 128 and Beach 129 Street.

Nobody involved in the talks will confirm that such a plan is even on the table, however.

There are three other sites at the crash scene that are reportedly still for sale.

The Lawler property, adjacent to the Concannon property and the Pompanio property, adjacent to that, have not yet been reported as sold.

Neither plans any longer to re­build on that land, according to in­formation gathered by The Wave.

A third property, across the street from those two is also reportedly for sale.

The families, however, wanted the Concannon property more than any of the others.

Should the mayor get serious about his plan for a Rockaway memorial, however, he could move to take one of those other sites by eminent domain and use it for that purpose. There is no indication, however, that the mayor is moving in that direction and his office refused to speculate on such a plan.

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