Rochester police officers replaced the current flag with a flag that has flown at the New York 9/11 memorial.

Rochester police officers replaced the current flag with a flag that has flown at the New York 9/11 memorial.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Rochester dedicates Heroes Point park and garden

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 22, 2020

 Elected officials, police and fire department members, and community members attend the Heroes Point Park and Garden  dedication.

Elected officials, police and fire department members, and community members attend the Heroes Point Park and Garden dedication.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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ROCHESTER — A memorial to pay tribute to first responders was dedicated in downtown Rochester Sept. 11.

“Thank you for joining us today as we take the time to remember what happened to our country on Sept. 11, 2001, when almost 3,000 innocent people were murdered by individuals unworthy of recognition. Untold other souls were injured physically, mentally and emotionally — and have suffered and continue to suffer terrible consequences to this day,” said Rita Duff, from the Rochester Fire Department, during the Heroes Point dedication ceremony. “Many of these souls are our nation’s heroes who were called to action on that fateful day but did not perish with their closest friends, colleagues and family. Instead, they continue to bravely soldier on and epitomize for all of us what true heroism is.”

The Rochester Fire Department’s Heroes Point park and garden was conceived over three years ago when a piece of the remaining structure from the North Tower of the World Trade Center was donated to Duff — who has a great-grandfather who served as a division chief with New York City Fire Department in 1899, another who served as a New York Police Department officer, and cousins who served on 9/11 with the NYPD. She received the gift of steel after sharing her family’s long history of service with a firefighter with the FDNY during training in New York.

With space for community gatherings and dedications, as well as paths on which to stroll and play, Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said Heroes Point pays tribute to past and present first responders and is intended to be a peaceful and respectful place of honor and reflection for the community. The design includes benches, a waterfall fountain and landscaping, and it features the piece of steel from the North Tower, recovered after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We now have an area that the community can take pride in and can gather in. We now have a method to go ahead and teach our future kids to never forget and to remember what it takes to make this country free,” Cieslik said.

“Heroes Point is certainly a spectacular place for a peaceful reflection to honor those military and first responders of past, present and in the future,” Rochester Police Steve Schettenhelm added.

The Heroes Point project cost around $190,000. The Fire Department received a $160,000 donation to support the project from Rochester residents Hugh and Nancy Elliott to supplement the approximately $30,000 the Fire Department raised.

“This means a lot to Nancy and I,” Hugh Elliot said during the dedication ceremony. “I hope everybody in the future brings their children down here to see what it means to be a first responder and see the pictures of what they did for us and our children.”

With space for community gatherings, dedications and announcements, as well as paths on which to stroll and reflect, Cieslik said Heroes Point is intended to be a focal point in the eastern cornerstone of the downtown Rochester community.

“One of the challenges the City Council gave us was to make this an area for the community, and I hope that we’ve done that,” he said. “This is a place now for the community to share. This belongs to the community. Please support it. Please honor it. Please enjoy it.”

The community can still assist in supporting Heroes Point. Donations can be made at any financial level by individuals, families, neighborhoods or organizations. Engraved brick pavers can be purchased, and there are also opportunities for sponsorships and engravings.

For more information about sponsorships, call Cieslik at (248) 651-4470 or email JCieslik@rochestermi.org.

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