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Tampa to receive steel from the World Trade Center

TAMPA — Two pieces of steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center are headed to Tampa.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is donating the artifacts, one an I-beam about 8 feet long and the other a flange nearly 4 feet across.

Rusted and battered, each is a powerful symbol of a day that changed the nation.

"It's something you just feel is charged," said Robin Nigh, who manages arts programs for the city of Tampa. "It was there when. … I think it'll be important for us for a long time."

City officials haven't decided how to display the steel. But Nigh said one piece could go to a corner of Bayshore Boulevard where the Bayshore Patriots regularly wave American flags at passing motorists. The other could go to the Tampa Firefighters Museum on Zack Street.

Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Matthew Rametta, the museum's president, said it would be an honor to have a piece of the towers. Visitors sometimes ask whether there is a memorial in downtown Tampa to firefighters killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"9/11 was something that touched so many people," Rametta said. "We feel like this is a huge opportunity to address that and give it its due."

Earlier this month, reverent crowds gathered at Westfield Citrus Park and Westfield Brandon malls to see a 13-foot-long, 1,471-pound steel beam from the towers. The Port Authority had donated it to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office as a Sept. 11 memorial, and has given other chunks of the towers to hundreds of communities nationwide.

The city's agreement with the Port Authority requires Tampa to pay to bring the items to Florida, but Nigh does not expect the expense to be significant. There may be volunteers willing to go get them, she said.

It's also not clear when the items could arrive in Tampa, though Nigh said it could be sometime this summer.

Last week, Hillsborough County commissioners discussed working with city officials to find a permanent home for the beam received by the Sheriff's Office. One possibility is Heroes Plaza in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park near the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa.

Times staff writer Bill Varian contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Tampa to receive steel from the World Trade Center 05/23/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:39pm]
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