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Kitsap 9/11 Memorial redesign, smaller in scale

A bird’s eye view of the proposed Kitsap 9/11 Memorial in the east portion of Evergreen Park in Bremerton.  - Contributed
A bird’s eye view of the proposed Kitsap 9/11 Memorial in the east portion of Evergreen Park in Bremerton.
— image credit: Contributed

In terms of the newest rendition of a proposed Kitsap 9/11 Memorial design, maybe less is more.

It’s also what the public has been asking for.

Members of the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial Committee presented the updated design concept of the memorial to a great American tragedy Tuesday at the Bremerton Parks and Recreation board meeting.

The new design has taken into consideration the main comments from the public earlier in the year — wordiness of the stories, the memorial being too large, lack of local stories — and has scaled back the design while keeping the core concepts of representing the four significant events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

“The design is still forming,” said Dave Fergus, committee member and architect with local firm, Rice Fergus Miller. “We’re still looking for input from the board and community.”

The new design is reduced by 75 percent of what it was originally set out to be, Fergus said. The memorial is proposed to be on the undeveloped east side of Evergreen Park in Bremerton.

New on board with the design help is Bob Guyt, also of Rice Fergus Miller, who explained that the redesign will encompass a “time scale” where each of the four events of 9/11 — each plane that hit the Twin Towers, American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania — will be represented by different colored metal tiling. That tiling will be placed in a circle to make a ring around the central memorial, similar to looking like a sun dial with twisted beams of 9/11 wreckage at its center.

The tiles are expected to be engraved with stories of each event in chronological order, with time markers along the way so people will be able to tell what happened when in each attack and in relation to each other, Guyt said.

“It can be a short visit where you just touch the steel, or you can spend more time and read the stories,” said Guyt, adding that the two steel beams from the wreckage of the Twin Towers will be placed among the ring of events.

The memorial would also include two walls outside of the rings to represent each fallen tower, which would be about 30 to 36 inches high, Guyt said. The walls begin in relation to the metal tiles that indicate the attacks of the towers, he said.

A third wall will be set outside of this and would be covered in art tiles made by local fifth graders a fews years ago. The students participated in a Leadership Kitsap program where they painted what heroism means to them.

A wall might also include stories of 9/11 from local views, which was another request by the public, but the committee is still discussing where the best place to obtain the local stories would be.

Although all parks board members do not even agree with having a 9/11 memorial at Evergreen Park, for the most part they said the committee listened to their previous feedback, as well as from the public, and came back with a better redesign concept.

Joan Dingfield, a board member, said she is still opposed to a memorial but the scale of the new design is better and allows for open space in the rest of the park, which will be a great addition to the area.

“I appreciate the more neutral nature,” she said.

Outside of the memorial there is also a proposal to place white trunk birch trees with space to walk between them that would act as a natural representation of a memorial icon, Guyt said. He added that it would be similar to the white crosses scattered amongst a green backdrop at the Arlington National Cemetery.

The new design concept also includes an American flag that would be placed outside the walls. Committee members said the flag would need to be high enough so as not to compete with the steel beams. Guyt said the overall diameter of the memorial is 33 feet and the inner ring is the same diameter of a Boeing 767 plane.

Wyn Birkenthal, parks director, said the committee has shown a careful response to the issues raised earlier at public meetings. He said he likes that the design leaves large open areas for recreation in the park.

“This is a good design,” he said after the meeting, adding that some concerns include raising money for the memorial and the maintenance as well as the timeline of the project. Currently the committee’s goal is to have the memorial finished by Sept. 11, 2012.

Board member Sunny Wheeler said in less than a year’s time, the city will not have money to even sprinkle grass seed in the park.

“I’d like to see the money upfront,” Wheeler said. She added that she liked the new design and appreciated that people would be able to take in the memorial as just a graphic piece if they wanted to.

Fergus said because of the smaller scale of design, the memorial cost would be less than originally anticipated. The committee had previously estimated the cost for a memorial to  be about $2 million. The committee plans to seek in-kind donations for materials and maintenance of the memorial.

The parks department will not be responsible for maintaining the memorial.

Birkenthal said the memorial design would be discussed at the city Public Safety and Parks Committee meeting Wednesday and from there, would figure out what the next steps in the process would be.

Several members of the community commented on the new design, many appreciating the smaller scale and saying the new design is an improvement.

“It’s a bunch of dirt now, so whatever they do is going to be an improvement,” said John Burch, a 35-year Bremerton resident.

However, there were still people who had problems with the design concept.

Jane Rebelowski, a Bremerton resident of 12 years, said the committee is only focusing on the stories of a “core group” for the memorial such as first responders and military personnel, but there are others to remember as well.

“My stories are extremely different. You have a political bent,” Rebelowski said to the committee. “I don’t feel it’s fair for someone else to come over and take our park.”

Many feel the new design is appropriate to move forward with.

“We need to remember. We’re a military town,” said Burch. “We need to go for it.”

 

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