For the past two years, a sign on a grassy vacant lot across from the Syosset Fire Department headquarters on Cold Spring Road has proclaimed a new memorial park was “coming this spring.”
Spring 2018 could be when it actually gets built.
The Oyster Bay Town Board earlier this month approved a $339,150 contract with Ridge-based Laser Industries Inc. to build the memorial park, which will include two steel beams from the World Trade Center.
Fire District Superintendent Jack Randazzo said firefighters are looking forward to the memorial because “it’s something for them.”
“It’s only a good thing when you have something memorialized for people who sacrificed, whether it’s line of duty here or from 9/11,” Randazzo said.
The memorial will include the names of department members who died in the line of duty as well as firefighters who died of 9/11-related illness.
“There are people in our town who are city firemen that were down there and succumbed to it later,” Randazzo said.
The town and the fire district plan to split the cost, with the town paying $250,000 and the district paying the remaining $89,150. The fire district will maintain the park.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in an email that construction could begin next month and be completed in the spring. Saladino said the project was inherited from former Supervisor John Venditto.
“The prior administration and town board made a commitment to this project in 2015 — long before I took office,” Saladino said.
The property hasn’t been used for almost a decade. Randazzo said the district filled in a hole left when a house on the property was demolished two or three years ago and now keeps the grass cut.
The former owners of a house on the property tried unsuccessfully in 2007 and 2008 to get a town variance to open a ground floor business and rent the top floor as an apartment. Several months after a 2008 hearing on the variance was tabled, the fire district bought the property for $440,000 — $95,000 more than the owners had paid for it four years earlier, town and county records show.
Randazzo said the fire district had planned to convert the lot into a garage for fire vehicles, but “the residents weren’t too happy about that” and it wasn’t built.
“The property pretty much sat there,” Randazzo said. Then around 2012, the fire district commissioners “were approached by the town to do a park, and the whole 9/11 steel came through the city,” he said.
The total town budget for the memorial, including engineering and construction, and installing a new traffic signal in front of it, is $500,000, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said in an email.
The park was designed by Hauppauge-based Nassau Suffolk Engineering & Architecture PLLC. When bids came in over budget last year, the board rejected them and then rebid a scaled-down project that was approved this year.
Randazzo said he’s happy the memorial is finally moving ahead after years of delays.
“It’s going to be a nice park,” he said.