Kensington Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Mark Lewandowski is a “big idea” kind of guy. When he joined Relay For Life, he wanted to try to get New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a guest speaker.
So when he heard the World Trade Center would allow organizations to obtain pieces of the twisted metal after 9/11, Lewandowski did not hesitate to fill out all the paperwork and apply.
The Kensington Volunteer Fire Department was chosen to receive two I-beams and a piece of twisted metal from that fateful event almost 10 years ago.
Lewandowski's vision was to build a 9/11 memorial in front of the KVFD on Farmington Ave. to serve as a constant reminder. His goal was to have it put together and erected for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
That will not happen, but Lewandowski said he is not discouraged.
“Because the building next to us (Depot Crossing) didn’t finish, there are some questions about the property line,” Lewandowski said. “We don’t want to put everything into it and put it in the wrong spot.”
Instead of making it in time for the 10th anniversary, there will be a temporary memorial put on Farmington Ave. with the cooperation of the fire department’s other neighbor, Jeff Matson at Matson Rug. There will also be a ceremony on 9/11 this year to mark the anniversary. Details are still being worked out.
“We are in a holding pattern,” Lewandowski said. “It is a tight space there between the flag pole, which came out great, and the street. We are also going to put up a wall so we have to be very precise.
“I think, in a way, it’s disappointing because we won’t have it up for the 10th anniversary but we also have to think beyond the big anniversaries. We are always thinking about it on the fifth and 10th anniversary when we should be thinking about it every year.”
So what will the memorial look like when it is finished?
“I have a few surprises I don’t want to give out yet,” Lewandowski said with a chuckle. “We will have an area in the shape of the Pentagon. The two I-beams will stand straight up in the same space as the World Trade Centers did. The twisted piece of metal, which just shows the sheer devastation of the buildings, will be behind the I-beams to kind of encompass everything.”
Lewandowski said the project is two-thirds the way to raising all the money needed.
The Italian Independent Political Club, (IIPC) ran a pasta dinner last November. There was also a comedy show at the Hawthorne Inn.
“We have gotten good feedback from people who have said they will help with the construction,” Lewandowski said. “We have an engineer’s plan ready to go. We want to have everything lined up so that we are ready to go when we get the go-ahead. It’s all a guess right now, but I would like to think it will be done by 9/11/2012.”
There is a meeting Thursday night of the fire chiefs from the four volunteer fire departments this Thursday night so some of the details about this year’s memorial service and the memorial going forward will be finalized then.
“The date of 9/11 falls on a Sunday this year so we’re not sure what time we are going to do the memorial service for the 10th anniversary,” Lewandowski said. “We might do it in the morning at the time of the attacks or we may do it later in the day to stay away from church activities. I’m sure I’ll have more information after the meeting. This memorial service is for the entire community but first and foremost it is for the firefighting community.”