Amsterdam’s Failed World Trade Center Memorial

City officials never told new Riverlink Park concessionaire it was there, in fact they don’t want anyone to know about a piece of the fallen World Trade Center that sits hidden near the fence at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park.  It was supposed to serve as a memorial to those who died in the tragic terrorist attack on American soil savagely killing over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

Robert von Hasseln, Amsterdam’s Administrator of Community and Economic Development who also holds the position of City Historian, wanted to make sure that Amsterdamians never forget that day when the hijackers took over American Airline flight 11 that changed course in the air over Amsterdam, New York, eventually crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Von Hasseln arranged to have a surviving column of the World Trade Center’s north tower transported to the City of Amsterdam to be memorialized in a fitting presentation at Riverlink Park.

The 11,000 pound, 18 foot column was unceremoniously dumped on the East end of Riverlink Park four years ago. There was supposed to be a monument built around the erect column with a public dedication ceremony in Spring of 2012. On December 15, 2011, Amsterdam’s Mayor Thane described the proposed memorial to Recorder reporter Jarrett Carroll;

The cement column will be planted upright into the ground once the ground is workable again. We will be mounting it as an obelisk on the section of land between the cafe and the blacktop, There will be a circular mediation area surrounding it with trees, explanatory signage and benches. It will be a strong symbol that will serve as both a visual and abstract representation.

The memorial was never built, the public dedication ceremony never happened. The World Trade Center artifact remains where it was dumped four years ago, hidden behind Riverlink Park’s event tent.

This serves as another failed promise of the Thane administration, a disgrace to those who died and a slap in the face to those Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics and volunteers who worked so hard to rescue victims of that attack. It is also an insult to my fellow Veterans who joined the service after 9/11, sacrificing their lives and limbs to fight the war on terror.

It is disingenuous of Mayor Ann Thane to say this project was not forgotten and always on the priority list. That is all just political spin. The truth is, the project was tossed around like a hot potato with nobody wanting to take ownership and get it done. It went from von Hasseln to the Veterans Commission, to Joe Isabel, back to von Hasseln and was finally dumped on the Recreation Director in December of 2014. There are no set plans, designs or even a location to erect the memorial. I wrote three blog articles about this situation on the Grove Street Photographer over the past four years, the last one picked up by WCSS radio and then it went viral. I am very pleased to see the WTC memorial finally getting the attention it deserves. There is something wrong with local government when you have to shame politicians into doing their jobs. Mayor Ann Thane should acknowledge responsibility for this failure and apologize sincerely to the citizens of Amsterdam and the relatives of those who died in the WTC bombing on 9/11.

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Categories: Amsterdam, historic amsterdam league, historic preservation, History, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

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27 thoughts on “Amsterdam’s Failed World Trade Center Memorial

  1. When I heard of this acquisition I was moved to write this poem which I dedicate to the memory of all those we lost.

    Observance

    The best way to avenge an enemy is to learn to forgive – Hiroshima Survivor

    We have to choose what we believe to see;
    this fractured fixture shows us just how cruel our kind can be
    but will forgiveness ever grant us courage to refuse
    what we believe to see? We have to choose–

    do we see the light, or do we see the beam
    the broken concrete symbol of a sorely wounded dream,
    for only our transcendence can eradicate the night
    do we see the beam, or do we see the light?

  2. This is disgusting and shameful…with NO excuses acceptable…and we have had it in our possession for how long? DISGRACEFUL!!!!
    I write in honor and in memory of all those lost, especially my good friend, Franciscan Friar Fr Mychal Judge, OFM who was killed on that awful day in US history. Suggest we form a committee (an APOLITICAL committee) and get this done NOW!!!!
    Dr Michael M Sheridan

    • Donna Dickerson

      Dr.Sheridan You are so right, we could do a Gofundme on Face book or put it in the news paper I would be more than Proud and Happy to help I lost 2 friends. The Mayor had money to support her Art Center and Buy Rams. but not for the respect of the people lost that awful day, they is No Excuses she can give NONE and she can Stop passing the problem to some one else.

    • Anthony Leggiero

      Tried this….I was a key player in the baby stages getting this…It all floated by the Veterans Commission….Who sit idle on it now—because you are right—-political tug rope.

  3. Patricia Butkus

    Oh my goodness. This is unacceptable! Why even ask for the column if you weren’t going to display it properly? I’m sure other communities would be honored to have it and display it. If you didn’t have the money to follow through with this project, I’m sure there are people willing to donate. Heartbreaking!

  4. RoseMary Carter

    Dr. Sheridan is right….no politics….this needs to be placed and shown the respect it deserves….shame on amsterdam…

  5. Dr.My BP is sking as I read this No wonder A-dam gets a bad rap very apparent it’s time for a change!

  6. Beverly Copeland

    Agree with Dr Sheridan. How about making this an Eagle scout project?

  7. With over 9,000 people viewing this article on my blog today and the overwhelming response from those wanting to see this monument erected, I am happy to say the City has suddenly found some money in the Recreation fund to get this taken care of. Thank you all for helping to spread the word to get this monument the respect it deserves! Let’s make sure the City of Amsterdam follows through with this project.

    • Donna Dickerson

      Jerry I believe with all my heart this article should be placed in the Recorder to show our Mayors True colors and the disrespect she showed for all the people who died on 9/11. My husband and I bought a Remember 9/11 Flag for City Hall it has flown once 9/11/2012 should fly every year. It can be flown by the Beam thank you Jerry God Bless

      • Donna, I think you will get your wish. Nicole Antonucci is writing the story. You may see some politica spin. . Watch how the city’s official statement changes from what our Facebook Mayor posted earlier today!

  8. david maryzak

    This is indeed disgraceful that nothing has been done over this length of time. Shame on the mayor and council for dropping the ball on this one. This is an opportunity to show leadership and bi-partisan cooperation. This memorial would be an important additional feature to the Riverlink Park and walkway bridge. Some other community would have fully embraced the opportunity this relic represents. Instead it lies off to the side, like some construction-site scrap.
    Hopefully voters recognize that it’s time for change, and that qualified individuals with vision and greater sense of cooperation step into the box. Stop the decline of our city before it’s too late.
    Had this been presented in the newspaper etc., I would bet some group would have shown interest in sponsoring or participating.
    City leaders, get moving on this soon, the summer months of park activity are upon us. Market the memorial in the news, put something positive about our city into the limelight.
    Mayor, you should know that not everyone follows your Facebook page, so don’t forget neglect to use the newspaper as a forum.
    . It took this blog to hopefully get something going. Great example of photojournalism. Please keep the Mayor and Councils’ feet to the fire.

  9. Josh

    This is why she is a dreadful mayor. She has done very minimal amount for our city. She cares more about painting the sides of buildings that very few people see. The money she has spend on these other stupid worthless projects around the city could have gone towards building this memorial. I hope in the next election the people of Amsterdam puts their heads on straight and realize how poor of a mayor she has been. We need someone who will actually put the important problems first instead of on the back burner. When I come home from college the city looks worst and worst every time. This city has become a disgrace to an amazing state and I have no problem saying it.

  10. Tom DiMezza

    Jerry,
    This is such a disgrace, the Mayor is more concerned with her rock garden then taking care of this 911 Memorial. If the Mayor had any leadership skills she could have had an engineering firm and an architectural firm donate their service. Also I’m sure there are construction firms that would help out. But again those huge fingers come out again. Pointing fingers and putting the blame on others. That is what she is best at doing.

    • Yes Tom, the spin doctor definitely made a house call! Now it seems to be all my fault!

    • Rob Millan

      Tom,
      Here’s an idea for maybe you and Jerry: start a GoFundMe for the capital needed for this project. It’s much more productive than complaining. Others have suggested this. I think people would be more willing to donate to this cause than you think. It’s a hell of an idea, no? The library is at or near its goal for a new roof and got there pretty fast (thanks in part to donors like Jerry, me, etc.). I think the community is chock full of people willing to give money for a worthy cause.
      Jerry, thoughts? Let me know when it’s up, I can kick up the donations!

      • Informing the public about failed promises of elected officials is hardly complaining. If the Mayor put 1/4 of the effort into this memorial as she did diverting taxpayer money to pay for art adorning her legacy pedestrian bridge project, it would have been up years ago. Let’s face it, she dropped the ball on this one. Admitting mistakes and sincerely apologizing were lessons recommended in her civility session. Apparently she feels entitled to ignore that advice when it suits her purpose.

  11. Mel Wilson

    9/11 steel from south tower is in town of Florida veterans park. It’s being erected now for a ceremony on Memorial Day 2015 I believe…(thanks to my dad (Dan Wilson), county executive Matt ossenfort, and countless others who have supported this project.

    http://www.townoffloridaveteransmemorialpark.org/photo.html

    • Thanks Mel! Unfortunately, the City of Amsterdam has not been so supportive. Our pylon has been dumped in a corner of Riverlink Park and forgotten over the years.

  12. Julie Macfarlane

    This should NOT be a political thing, but as Americans standing for other Americans lost…..

    I have to wonder if this same mayor received funds from Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Gun Violence for naming Amsterdam as supporting his cause?

  13. Tina Colliton

    The ultimate shame is that it took an article to bring this to light and make them actually do something about it. As someone who served in the US military, someone whose brother still does, and someone whose daughter did, this is absolutely disrespectful behavior by an individual who is supposed to represent a leadership position in a community. That event is a part of American history, and should not be disregarded, and excuses shouldn’t be made to not properly recognize it. A ceremony wouldn’t have drained the budget. I’m sure there are community members who would of volunteered for it. September 11th 2001 was way too devastating of an event in our country and impacted people all over, and many people died that day…and this is the recognition they get? And there is not a doubt in my mind, I am sure there are people in the community, if not throughout the Capital Region, that would have contributed donations for this to be completed into a wonderful memorial, more so, than say, having it dumped behind a tent. How absolutely disgusting. I have never felt shame of my hometown, but frankly, after reading this article, sitting here today, I most definitely do.

  14. LouAnn

    How much would this memorial cost?

  15. Diane

    Jerry, a while back I had spoken with Joe Isabel who had volunteered to take the project over. In a short time he had volunteers and donations of materials. Then she sent Rob von Hassln to Joe and told him she had turned it over to Rob in Rec. Last month, a resolution came before the council transferring insurance funds from fixing the damage on city recreation properties to certain recreation projects,Rob wanted to do and did not have money in his budget, one of which is the memorial. I voted against it based on the fact we lose 25% of the funding by not using it for its intended purpose. Also we have a serious problem of letting things fall to pieces before they are fixed, which means that those insurance items will probably never be fixed.

    This is very unfortunate to say the least. There was no need to do what has been done…….

  16. Donna Dickerson

    We don’t need Rob in the Rec. Dept. doing it, The Mayor only wants to add it to her List of Great Things she says she has done for our City. She could care Less about the Beam she just got Caught in One of her Many stories. Let Joe Isable do it if the Mayor had stayed out of it Joe would have had it done a Long Time ago I personality have NO RESPECT for ANN as a Mayor she did as she wanted, spent what she wanted and didn’t care about the Taxpayers only her ideas and views matter, the Rams, Golf Carts, the Bridge (the Bridge could have been stopped if the Truth had been told to the Voters) but she wanted it To be a Mayor you MUST be UP FROUNT with your taxpayers, listen to them, they pay your salary, NOT Gerry. I Pray this has opened many peoples Eyes Ann is Not what she pretends to be. Joe and Jerry my Husband and I will be Proud to donate to help with the Beam, and God Bless those who lost there lives and there family’s may they R.I.P. they will NEVER be FORGOTEN

  17. David S Brownell

    I don’t believe that Mayor Thane had much to do with this from the outset. I think that this was something offered to her and other cities throughout the state and she said yes, definitely, we’ll take it. It was better to take it than to lose the opportunity outright. It’s fine where it is at present until somehow the City or a private group can raise money to see the memorial completed. I don’t believe it will deteriorate anymore lying down than it will when its erected. It is no shame to the City – we are a cash strapped City which is trying to stay alive in this economy. We will find a way to finish the project in due time. I don’t see laying the blame at the Mayor’s feet. I take a position of moderation on this…I don’t see the Memorial as a number one priority for the City to tackle.

    David S. Brownell

  18. Andreea Prusky

    Mayor Thane shows on a daily that she could careless about the public she serves u less it benefits her. I’m surprised she even knew it was there- so is so out of the loop with Amsterdam or what is happening here.

  19. Anthony Leggiero

    Allow me to refresh the mind…I was on the Veterans Commission when this was brought into Amsterdam on a wrecker truck, offloaded by DPW. I heard seven different excuses to Sunday and sixteen different plans before my resignation from the Commission because of the micromanagement by the Mayor via VonHasselburger…Oh and yeah, I almost ummmmm forgot ummmmm I DID get the memorial started and BUILT at Veterans Park….Then there were the Johnny Come Latelys who said “look what I we can do”. All in the Veterans Commission meeting minutes.

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