Frank Rizzo | Democrat
Some of the major players involved in creating the Smallwood/Mongaup Valley Fire Department 9-11 Memorial Monument and Park gathered around the stainless steel clad structure, topped by the World Trade Center artifact. All were members of either the department or its Ladies Auxiliary. Kneeling, from left: Bob Heinz, John Panos and Marc Escobar. Standing: Lisa Wood, Eileen Morey, Pat Burns, Gus Bertram, George Wood and Marie Dietrich.
Community effort makes 9-11 memorial park a reality
By Eli Ruiz
MONGAUP VALLEY The Smallwood/Mongaup Valley Fire Department members wanted a 9-11 Memorial Garden worthy of their expanded headquarters fronting Ballard Rd. in this Bethel township hamlet.
Thanks to a community effort, they now have it.
The centerpiece of the memorial grounds is no doubt the 9-11 Memorial Sculpture, topped by a 361⁄2"x11"x11", 116-lb. I-beam from the World Trade Center. It was unveiled in ceremonies on September 11.
It joins several others on the grounds, including a bronze plaque dedicated to all the firefighters who died that day. A longstanding memorial to the members of the department, which is led by Chief George Roosevelt, stands nearby.
For firefighter Lisa Wood, one of the driving forces behind the 9-11 monument, the quest was personal. In the Army, she came to know Sgt. Frederick Ill Jr. Years later, as a member of FDNY Ladder 3, Ill was one of 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center.
The monument is dedicated to all those who lost their lives that day not just in NYC.
Wood took the initiative to write the Port Authory to request an artifact, which was delivered last year shortly before the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
The monument was designed by Kevin Nevins of Napanoch, who works with Lisa’s husband George at Woodbourne Correctional. George, then the fire company president, now V-P, had taken photos of the artifact to work, asking for design ideas. Within minutes, Nevins had come up with a three-dimensional drawing.
Fire Company President Marc Escobar used the services of his employer, fire apparatus maker Sutphen East of White Lake, to shape the stainless steel pedestal with help from Bob Heinz and technical advice from Bill Boland. Escobar’s artistic contribution was the symbolic skyline he cut for the lower part of the monument, one of Lisa’s requirements for the memorial.
The writing on the plaque was etched by Hildy Rosenberg Schoonmaker and Precision Engraving of Monticello.
Funding for the memorial garden/monument came from numerous sources, including Sullivan Renaissance grants and awards, and various fundraisers some by the department’s Ladies Auxiliary, led by President Roseanna Briffa.
Flag donations came from the American Legion and Aileen Gunther. The Bethel Local Development Corporation, Bubba’s BBQ and Thunder 102 helped out. One donation came from a woman on Long Island who read about the project in June Barrett’s Smallwood column in the Democrat.
Sullivan Renaissance supplied three interns and the services of its horticultural community liaison, Vivian Multari-Ginsberg, for the final push to finish the memorial garden in time for Renaissance judging back in August.
The landscaped grounds won a Class B “Best Garden Design” award from Renaissance at its August awards ceremony.
The work started in the spring, when department members Dennis Dietrich and Lester Jackson cleared the overgrown shrubbery. Matt Cooper, a neighbor, helped out with his heavy equipment to move the decorative boulders into place.