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 Heroes Point Park and Garden includes benches, landscaping and a waterfall fountain surrounding a piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center, recovered after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Heroes Point Park and Garden includes benches, landscaping and a waterfall fountain surrounding a piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center, recovered after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Concept drawing provided by the Rochester Fire Department

World Trade Center steel beam to be part of Rochester memorial

Heroes Point Park and Garden to honor first responders

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 26, 2018


ROCHESTER — Hundreds of tons of remnant steel from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have been shared with community groups, museums, military bases and fire stations around the world, many of them now standing as memorials for 9/11.

Rochester will soon have its own memorial to pay tribute to the first responders who risk their lives to keep others safe in the new Heroes Point Park and Garden.

Conceived over two years ago — when a piece of the remaining structure from the North Tower was donated to Rita Duff, a member of the Rochester Fire Department — Heroes Point will be developed at the Rochester Fire Department, at the corner of Second and Third streets.

Duff has a great-grandfather who served as a division chief with the New York City Fire Department in 1899, another who served as a New York Police Department officer, and first cousins who served on 9/11 with the NYPD. She received the gift after sharing her family’s long history of service with a firefighter with the FDNY during training in New York.

“I had told him that the chief and I were trying to find a way to secure a piece of steel for 9/11 so that we could build a memorial garden, and he told me that he would give it to me — and he did,” she said. “I was entrusted with a piece of 9/11 steel from the North Tower. It’s just very humbling to have the privilege to be able to protect it and safeguard it, because they know how hard we are working out here to build a proper place for it to be respected and honored and shared with our community.”

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.

“Anybody who takes the time to serve their neighbor is really a hero — the person who helps shovel the walk of the senior citizen or checks in on their neighbor or responds to a fire or a police event, or military who give up much of their family lives to go out and serve and protect us — that’s what really motivated us to bring this forward and honor all heroes. … Never forget those people who serve. Don’t forget 9/11, and don’t forget the people who continue to serve today and also into the future.”

The design includes benches, a waterfall fountain and landscaping, and it features a piece of steel from the North Tower in New York City, recovered after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We want it to be a place of light and hope, as well as somewhere to have this sacred piece of steel honored, because we don’t want anyone to forget. I think it’s a big concern today. There are children growing up today who don’t even know about 9/11 and what happened,” Duff said.

The Heroes Point project is estimated to cost around $165,000. Cieslik said the Fire Department has raised $30,000 so far, but it needs another $50,000 to launch the project and begin working on the fountain, around which the rest of the design can be built.

The Fire Department is now appealing to the community to assist in supporting Heroes Point. Donations can be made at any financial level by individuals, families, neighborhoods or organizations. Engraved paver bricks can be purchased for $250, and there are also opportunities for bench and fountain sponsorships and engravings, as well as sponsorships to fund sections of the garden.

“We would be thrilled to have anything — whether it’s a child donating five bucks or businesses that could help us with larger donations. We’ve raised about $30,000 so far, but we need $80,000 to launch it, and we just believe the community will be very supportive once they understand how special this is,” said Duff.

If all goes well and enough funding is secured, officials hope to host a groundbreaking ceremony in September and to unveil the project by next fall.

For more information about sponsorships, call Gerald Salerno at (248) 766-2535.