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Archive for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden’s death could revive plans for 9/11 memorial in Hutchinson

May 3, 2011

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— When Hutchinson received a piece of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, plans were announced for an expansive memorial to the more than 3,000 victims, to be completed by the 10th anniversary this year.

But fundraising sputtered, and the firefighters union spearheading the memorial effort so far has only an architect's plans. The I-beam has been stored at a Hutchinson fire station and occasionally taken out for public displays.

Memorial supporters are hoping the national pride reignited this week after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by the U.S. military will bring attention — and donations — to the project.

Wes Stewart, secretary/treasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 179, had been trying to reinvigorate the fundraising effort even before bin Laden was killed Sunday in Pakistan, The Hutchinson News reported Tuesday.

"The goal was to have something done by the 10-year anniversary," Stewart said. "But here we are, and it's May, and we're a long way from having anything done."

The original plan, designed by Lynn Schwartzkopf of Mann and Company Architects, includes a central platform where the 4-foot-long steel beam would be suspended between granite pillars. It was to be surrounded by a plaza made of paving bricks engraved with the names of the 343 firefighters who died, two flagpoles, ramps and a water feature.

That plan would have cost about $200,000. Because the city is unlikely to spend tax dollars on the memorial, the union has been trying to raise donations for a scaled-down plan, which would include a platform only for the I-beam and the plaza. That would cost about $50,000, Stewart said.

The union is selling commemorative paving bricks that would surround the memorial. An order form is available on the union's website, www.iaff179.com . So far, 23 bricks have been sold. The union also applied for a grant from a foundation.

Firefighters would still like to have a "significant" permanent memorial, Stewart said. Three potential sites are under consideration: on the Kansas State Fairgrounds, at a park across from Hutchinson City Hall, or near a walking trail on the property where a new fire station will be built.

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