Posts Tagged With: robert von hasseln

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: , , , , , ,

The Forgotten Memorial


Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This attack resulted in the loss of 3,000 lives. We memorialize our dead with monuments and celebrations so that we never forget the travesty caused when humans wage war on other humans over political or religious differences.

The only other foreign attack on US soil also resulted in the loss over 3,000 lives and occurred on September 11, 2001, when the US was attacked by religious extremists. Airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

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.

Rob von Hasseln with World Trade Center artifact(photo by Ed Munger, Jr.)

12/14/2011 Rob von Hasseln with World Trade Center artifact
(photo by Ed Munger, Jr.)

The 11,000 pound, 18 foot column was unceremoniously dumped on the East end of Riverlink Park over a year 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. There was not even a 9/11 remembrance ceremony in 2012. The World Trade Center artifact remains where it was dumped over a year ago, hidden behind an event tent purchased by the City for private party catering by the concessionaire of Riverlink Café.

7/14/2011 World Trade Center Artifact

7/14/2011 World Trade Center Artifact

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Today I wanted to photograph the mistreated artifact once again for this article but was met with stiff opposition from the City of Amsterdam in the form of a locked gate.

12/7/2012 No access to Riverlink Park

12/7/2012 No access to Riverlink Park

Once again the citizens of the City of Amsterdam were let down by our elected officials making promises that cannot be kept. Maybe they are waiting for the next election season to build and dedicate this memorial. Wouldn’t that look good on campaign flyers?

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, History, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony


City Hall was the place for this mornings 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. The original site of Riverlink Park could not be used because of recent flooding. Amsterdam’s City Historian did a wonderful job of both planning , organizing and speaking at today’s event.  I’m sure there were others involved but Robert von Hasseln certainly deserves a lot, if not most of the credit for today’s event that was chock full of pomp and circumstance (a little heavy on the pomp). There was music presented by the Amsterdam High School Select Choir, Loreal Lavigna sang our National Anthem,  and Misha Murdoch played bagpipes. There were members of the clergy, Rabbi Ariel Lynn Russo presented the invocation and Rev William T. Hodgetts, Jr the benediction. Speeches were given by both von Hasseln and Mayor Ann Thane who looked a little worn from the events of the past two weeks. There was a color guard, flag raising ceremony, wreath laying ceremony and the firing of three rounds, the Amsterdam Fire and Police Departments stood at attention in their dress uniforms. There was so much packed into this event, we almost forgot why were there. The meaning was soon brought home by von Hasseln’s impassioned speech describing the events that occurred 10 years ago that forever changed the way we look at the world. Here are my images of today’s ceremony.

Categories: Amsterdam, History, Photography | Tags: , , , , , ,

The City Historian is Angry!


Amsterdam’s City Historian Robert von Hasseln is angry with the ill-prepared editorial A plan for the city’s future, published in the July 2, 2011, edition of the Recorder that has incorrect information and misconceptions about Historic Preservation.  He expressed his anger in a tersely worded letter sent to Recorder Editor Charlie Kraebel and the entire Historic Amsterdam League. I have since removed the letter from my blog at Mr. von Hasseln’s request and he is free to comment or repost if he so desires.

As a member of both the Zoning Update Committee and the Historic Amsterdam League, I agree with the City Historian.

The following statement from the Recorder editorial is just incorrect:

One interesting issue addressed in the update is the historic resources overlay zone that includes a section of Guy Park Avenue, Guy Park Avenue Extension and the Bridge Street area. It’s largely the same area that exists now in the historic resources overlay district, though the current ordinance lays out no guidelines or method of enforcement.

The historic overlay zone did not change in the proposed zoning ordinance. There are historic guidelines in our current ordinance with enforcement common to all sections of zoning code. They have never been followed by either code enforcement or the Planning Commission. Our current guidelines can be found in the following link.

§ 250-34. Development within the Historic Resources Overlay (HR-O) District.

The next statement taken from the editorial is just a flippant remark with no real insight or effort to find any factual information about the reasoning behind a local Historic Preservation Commission.

Also, the new draft establishes a Historic Review Board that would have to approve windows, doors, siding, demolition, new buildings, additions and more. During a series of ward meetings to discuss the progress of the zoning ordinance update, residents of the Guy Park Avenue area were concerned that the regulations might be too costly. That concerns us as well. Plus, the last thing Amsterdam needs is another board when there are several already in place, particularly planning and zoning boards, set up to deal with issues like this.

Our current regulation is not working, necessitating change. The Historic Preservation Commission is a necessary part 0f establishing Amsterdam as a Certified Local Government which also enables the City to receive Federal Historic Grants and tax credits. The membership of the Commission is regulated by New York State and must be composed of at least one from each the following categories; an architect experienced with historic buildings, a historian, a resident of a historic district, a member of a local historic preservation group. The NYS guidelines can be found in the following links.

Certified Local Government Program in New York State

Certified Local Government Program Explained

Legal Aspects of Municipal Historic Preservation

The membership of the Historic Amsterdam League have agreed to voluntarily conduct a visual survey of Amsterdam’s buildings under guidance of the City Historian, to decide if the current Historic Overlay District needs to be expanded or reduced in some areas. There are many homes in our city that contain significant historic architectural features that are outside of the current district. Adding new historic zones would make them eligible for preservation grants. This effort has no effect on the current zoning proposal. Any changes would have to be added after the passing of the proposed ordinance.

The City Historian came up with a solution that is both sound and reasonable to help keep Amsterdam’s architectural history. The members of the Zoning Update Committee agreed and the community should also.


Categories: Amsterdam, History, Law, Media, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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