Support The Flight 587 Memorial Committee
Now that the second anniversary of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor has passed and an agreement has been reached on removing the ad-hoc memorial wall that has been at the site for two years, Rockaway has to move forward in providing a suitable permanent memorial to those who died in the second-worst airline tragedy in American history. A plaque has been placed nearby the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 131 Street, the site of the crash. Many of the victim’s families are not satisfied with the plaque, seeing it as only part of the memorial they seek. Officials have ruled out the bayfront site north of Beach Channel Drive between Beach 126 and Beach 129 as being unsuitable for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the lack of parking and the danger of crossing busy Beach Channel Drive to get to the memorial. That leaves the Rockaway Tribute Park, sited on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 116 Street. A community committee comprised of approximately 20 members has been working hard for the past two years with the Chamber of Commerce/Rockaway Partnership and with the Community Board to come up with a memorial for those who died on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. That committee is now seeking consensus on whether or not to offer a specific area in Tribute Park for memorial bricks and benches. It will make its decision next week. There are some Rockaway people who want to see that park for 9/11 victims only. There are some family members who reject the proposal out of hand, demanding a piece of land at the crash site for a memorial. We should leave the Tribute Park decision, however, to the community committee that has been working so hard for so long. After that decision is made, Rockaway should speak with one voice in support of that decision. Governor Pataki said this week that the decision on a permanent memorial should not be a political one, but an agreement between the families and the Belle Harbor community. We agree. Let the community committee do its work, support that work, and then we shall see where we stand.