Healdsburg OKs 9/11 memorial

A corner of Healdsburg Plaza soon will become home to a remnant of New York City's World Trade Center, part of a memorial to the thousands killed in the 2001 terrorist attack.

The City Council on Monday night voted 4-0 vote, brushing aside concerns that the memorial might not belong in the plaza because only monuments honoring local residents are there.

"We are honoring our fire and police and the ones who were lost. We also had 3,000 civilians who died," said Mayor Gary Plass, a former police sergeant. "It's the second time in our history that we were attacked on our soil. I, for one, think it belongs in the plaza."

The 90-pound chunk of a steel I-beam from the Twin Towers will be mounted on a concrete pillar next to the gazebo. It will be near a bronze statue of a boy carrying a folded American flag that honors local fallen veterans.

A group of community volunteers said they expect to have the new monument in place by the anniversary of Sept. 11. Its cost, estimated at less than $3,000, is being paid for by former Healdsburg resident Fred Vellutini, who lost a grandson during the 9/11 attacks.

A friend of the Vellutini family who came to Monday's meeting was unable to provide details about the grandson other than that he was on one of the hijacked jetliners.

Council members were solemn and at times emotional as they discussed the 9/11 Memorial Monument.

"I can't talk about it. It makes me emotional," said Councilwoman Susan Jones, a former city police chief, as she took off her glasses and appeared to wipe a tear.

"We're bringing something back to Healdsburg," said Councilman Jim Wood. "It is a wonderful tribute to the fallen firefighters, police officers and other civilians who perished that day."

Plass said the plaza is the right place because it's what town founder Harmon Heald envisioned as the community gathering place when he laid out Healdsburg more than 150 years ago.

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