TAMPA — A twisted steel beam from the remains of New York's World Trade Center towers will be the centerpiece of a new Sept. 11 memorial, which will stand alongside a monument to fallen law enforcement officers at the Hillsborough County sheriff's operations center in Ybor City.
Plans for the two monuments, which will be erected side-by-side in a small area of green space dubbed the Fallen Heroes Remembrance Park, were detailed Tuesday in a news conference at the operations center.
The park will represent the culmination of plans for both memorials, for which city and county leaders have pushed for a number of years.
"If you think back, that was almost 12 years ago, but it seems like it was yesterday," Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda said, referring to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "This is not about us. This is about the thousands of individuals who lost their lives in those buildings that day. It's due time for us to honor them."
The park will be constructed over a portion of what is now a parking lot at the northwest corner of E Eighth Avenue and N 20th Street, west of the sheriff's operations center. The law enforcement memorial will be at the north end of the park, and the Sept. 11 memorial will be directly to the south.
Along with planned construction of two museums — one devoted to baseball and the other to law enforcement — the memorial project represents about a million dollars in community development in Ybor City, said Richard Swann, the Hillsborough sheriff's director of risk management.
Hillsborough County obtained the World Trade Center beam about two years ago through an application process. The intention was always to use it as part of a permanent Sept. 11 memorial, Swann said. But county officials did not know exactly where it would be placed until recently.
Artist renderings of the two monuments depict a striking addition to the community landscape.
The Sept. 11 memorial will dominate the south end of the park, the World Trade Center beam its central draw, along with a set of stainless steel sculptures depicting the firefighters, police and civilians who were victims of the terrorist attack.
Artist Becky Ault, co-owner of Art Research Enterprises, has been tasked with creating the steel sculptures, Swann said. A brick pathway will lead visitors to the sculptures and a set of trees will mark green space.
To the north, a bronze statue of a sheriff's honor guard deputy will stand at the center of a semicircular granite wall bearing the names of 15 fallen sheriff's deputies.
The two memorials will each cost about $250,000, Swann said.
For the Sept. 11 memorial, about $200,000 will be paid through public arts funding from the County Commission. County Administrator Mike Merrill donated an additional $50,000 to complete the project, Swann said. The law enforcement memorial will be paid for mostly by private donations.