After over 10 years of dreaming, a new 9/11 memorial park on Sound Avenue in Riverhead could soon become a reality.
At a memorial service held for Reeves Park resident Thomas Kelly, 38, a one of seven members of Engine 219, Ladder 105 who after the terrorist attacks, county officials said the long-hoped-for memorial park could be taking shape in the coming months.
Lisa Keys, legislative aide for Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine, said a tentative timeline has been set for county acquistion of the 4.1 acre parcel, located at the corner of Sound Avenue and Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive/Park Road.
According to Keys, acquisition of the land requires Suffolk County Parks Trustees approval. Because the August meeting of that group was canceled, the process has been set back a number of weeks.
According to a "best case scenario timeline," according to Jill Rosen-Nikoloff, Director of Affordable Housing for the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Workforce Housing, the Parks Trustees meeting will take place on Sept. 20.
Next, Keys said, an authorizing resolution for acquisition of the parcel is expected to be prepared and sent to be laid on the table on Sept. 21.
The resolution is expected to be introduced on Oct. 9, and reviewed by the county's environmental, or EPA, committee on Oct. 29.
Finally, the resolution is slated to be brought before the full Suffolk County Legislature on Nov. 20.
Following legislative approval, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone would sign the resolution and next, the county's real estate division would proceed with ordering the survey, completing the survey, completing title work, signing vouchers, ordering checks and setting a closing date.
Keys said if closing does not take place by the end of 2012, it is expected to happen in January. The 9/11 memorial park, should "be here by next year," Keys said.
For Bob Kelly, that news was heartening. "If there's an actual timeline, that's a good thing," he said.
Riverhead Town Councilman John Dunleavy pledged his support to the project. "It's going to happen," he vowed.
The Town, he said, already has $50,000 set aside for the memorial park. "Everything takes time," he said. "But we will get this park."
The project is close to Romaine's heart, Keys adde. "He's worked hard on this acquistion."
Other big news, Keys said, is that property owner Edward Broidy has agreed to sell a 14-acre parcel directly across the street from the site of the future 9/11 memorial on Sound Avenue to Suffolk County. The new hamlet park will complement the memorial, Keys said, with its future use shaped by community input.
had hoped that the groundbreaking for a 9/11 memorial park, which has been planned for almost 10 years at the parcel, would be ready for the 9/11 memorial service on Tuesday.
Instead, although a groundbreaking was originally planned for May, the process was stalled again at the Suffolk County level, due, Kelly said, to a change in administration.
The final deal was signed three years ago, Kelly said, and the wait has been long. The process itself has gone on for years, with the owner of the parcel, Kenn Barra, originally proposing to commercially develop the site. The idea was met with neighborhood opposition and the county eventually agreed to purchase the parcel for preservation.
Kelly, who has , has said, "You couldn't pick a nicer place to have a memorial."
A memorial garden will be planted at the site, with butterfly bushes, paths, and benches for quiet reflection, Kelly said. In addition, the stone and memorial that now stand would be moved back to sit near a large tree, much like the "tree of life" that stands at Ground Zero at the new memorial.