Defaced 9/11 memorial replanting set for May

Dorothea Poggi (right) posses with volunteer coordinator Kimberly Safran (left) from The Millennium Arts Academy during a park cleanup that included 100 9th graders on Friday, April 18. Poggi said she is gearing up for the sapling replanting on May 17. The students were caring for the area near where the 9/11 grove will be replanted.

After a grove of saplings serving as a living memorial to 9/11 victims disappeared, community leaders and activists vowed to return the trees to their rightful places.

A shocking January defacement to the Ferry Point Park memorial hasn’t deterred do-gooders from ensuring the site as a community asset.

The replanting of the 15-tree memorial grove of saplings dedicated to 9/11 victims from the Throggs Neck area will take place on May 17, in a quiet ceremony during the otherwise ebullient It’s My Park Day.

“The saplings are going to be replanted in a separate ceremony on that day, when we are expecting 150 volunteers,” Dorothea Poggi, Friends of Ferry Point Park president said. “We hope to invite the Lynches and other families of the victims of 9/11 who came to the original planting.

The Lynch family, whose firefighter son and brother Michael Lynch perished in the 9/11 attacks, started a memorial fund in his honor.  Lynch said he plans to keep an eye on the grove when it is replanted. So does the Parks Department.

“Parks enforcement is closely monitoring this area,” said Trish Bertuccio, spokeswoman for Parks. “We have also alerted the police in the area, who will keep a close eye on it.”

Poggi’s already arranged some additional help at the site.

“A local carter has volunteered to use his bobcat and container to transport the mulch to the area where the grove and other saplings representing victims are located,” Poggi continued.

The theft of the black birch saplings in January marked the second time the memorial was defaced. Back in November, five of the 15 trees were torn out of the ground shortly after being planted. They were replanted, but once again stolen in January.

The area was clearly marked as a 9/11 memorial, with signs of explanation, also asking the community to respecting the trees and what they represent.

Nevertheless, the signs attached to a wire fence near the memorial grove were ignored, and the trees torn by their roots and heisted in what was the biggest desecration of a 9-11 Memorial site in the Bronx since graffiti defaced a World Trade Center mural in Morris Park in May, 2006.  That mural was repainted by local high school students soon after.

When a flurry of media activity covered the area, two of the trees were subsequently found in a wooded area nearby.

The Ferry Point Park memorial grove was one of five planted throughout New York City by the Parks Department. Each site has a direct view of lower Manhattan. In a separate project, Parks began planting more than 3,000 trees – one for each 9/11 victim – around Ferry Point Park. Prince Albert II of Monaco donated all the trees.

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