AA 587 Families Ask For Bayfront Memorial Site
The disparate groups that represent the families of the passengers who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor more than two years ago have come together to demand that the city place a memorial to the dead on the Rockaway bayfront.
"The most suitable location [for a memorial] and the only place nearby the actual crash site is the piece of land along Beach Channel Drive from Beach 126 Street to Beach 129 Street," says John Brady, a spokesperson for the Flight 587 Families Association. "This location provides for most of the requisites for a dignified memorial in a serene setting. It is also the least intrusive location for the Belle Harbor community. A majority of the families are adamant that this piece of land is the only acceptable alternative to the actual crash site."
"The families have not shown unity on many things," says Hector Algarroba, whose parents died in the crash, "but they are unified on this. The desire for the bayfront site represents our respect for the Belle Harbor community not to impact their residential area, but also our need for a sanctuary where we can grieve our loved ones."
City officials, however, have previously ruled out the bayfront site for a memorial citing two problems: the safety of those crossing Beach Channel Drive to get to the memorial and the lack of parking in the area, particularly during the summer months.
The city has offered two alternative sites to the families, a place in the new Tribute Park, which is being built at the bayfront and Beach 116 Street and the circle of land at the southern end of Beach 116 Street, right near the boardwalk.
Brady and those he represents reject those two options.
"The proposed inclusion of a memorial for flight 587 in Tribute Park would detract from the ideals of both monuments," Brady said. "It is only fitting that an appropriate memorial be erected to honor the many brave souls who lost their lives in the horrific events of September 11, 2001, a place where their families and the entire Rockaway community can come to remember and reflect."
Brady also rejected the Beach 116 Street site.
"The other proposed site, at the south end of Beach 116 Street and the planned construction of a large luxury housing project and other commercial buildings in the immediate area would negate any sense of serenity – a prime requisite in the selection of a suitable location," Brady said. "Additional constraints would include a lack of parking and access to a memorial erected on that median due to the traffic flow around it."
Brady concluded, "A separate memorial to all those lost on November 12, 2001 is necessary for our families and the future generations so that they can come and visit a place where they can reconnect with and reflect on the tragic event that took our loved ones from us."
Brady and the family members are looking toward the Belle Harbor community to assist them in getting that memorial.
"With the good will of the community, we will achieve this objective," he added.