NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A startling number of 9/11 monuments around the country have been vandalized or fallen into disrepair, according to veterans’ groups, and that includes one in our own backyard.
The memorial is in Nassau County and it bears the names of all 344 residents killed in the attack.
Allie Giordano of Massapequa is part of a proud 9/11 family.
“My father responded to 9/11 and families are not going to want to see something that is supposed to remember people who lost their lives on this day not looking in tip top shape,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
With a camera in hand Giordano has been documenting disrepair surrounding Nassau County’s $2-million state of the art September 11 memorial in Eisenhower Park.
CBS2 was there for the emotional groundbreaking in 2004 with then President George W. Bush.
“It is a tragedy. If we should keep anything current it should be the memory of people who died on 9/11,” Michael Fagan said.
The county said winter played a major role, but others call it years of neglect.
Marble tiles are missing, floodlights are broken, paint peels around the steel beams that were salvaged from the World Trade Center, goose droppings lay underfoot, parts of a chain link fence are gone, weeds have become overgrown, and flags are torn, tattered, and damaged by birds.
“It upsets me because living here on Long Island we want everything to be kept up, especially a monumental place like this. Those who sacrificed their lives for us,” Zileen Nageer said.
Nageer jogs past the monument almost every day, and said she was astonished to hear Nassau’s explanation.
“Every spring the county makes it a priority to clean, power wash, prime, paint, and restore, but unfortunately the memorial was constructed nearly a decade ago with substandard materials,” Mary Studdert, Nassau Parks Department explained.
Was it a not so veiled criticism of the previous Suozzi administration?
“This can’t be looked upon as any political, Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American issue, a Long Island issue, a human issue,” U.S. Representative Peter King (R-Seaford) said, “And it has to be corrected as soon as possible. We owe it to the memory of those who died and to console those who are still living.”
King reached out to Nassau County and while CBS2’s cameras were on the scene, several county workers began weeding.
One visitor said the site looked a lot better than it has in a long time.
In a statement County Executive Mangano said his parks department will review whether additional capital improvements are necessary to update the monument.
Nassau County said it has invested more than $500,000 in recent years to maintain the site.