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Cortlandt Closer to Funding 9/11 Memorial

CORTLANDT, N.Y. - It looks as if the majority of the Cortlandt Town Board will support funding for a 9/11 memorial in the Village of Croton, after all.

Following a sometimes-heated discussion with members of a task force that has been coordinating the "Reaching Through the Shadow" memorial to be built near the Hudson River at Croton Landing, the town is preparing to vote on an agreement by the end of the month with the villages of Croton and Buchanan that includes a $15,000 contribution.

Last week, the majority of the board declined to add a similar resolution to its voting agenda, saying it opposed using taxpayers' money for the 9/11 memorial that was originally proposed to be built entirely with private donations.

Croton has reportedly agreed to contribute $3,900 and Buchanan is expected to approve a $1,100 contribution at its July 2 meeting.

"I'm supportive of this project and of contributing taxpayers' money," said Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, who has consistently been a staunch supporter of the memorial. "Taxpayers put it in our hands when they elected us to make judgments. This one is a wise thing to do."

Councilman Frank Farrell, who wavered last week, said he had always supported Croton Landing for the project but had questions about the financing, which he blamed on "miscommunications."

"I one-hundred-percent support the project, and I admire the committee for the work it has done," Farrell said. "What has bothered me is some of the budget I have seen have numbers that don't seem realistic or make sense to me."

Project director Janet Mainiero and architect James Rhodes took exception during the meeting with Councilwoman Ann Lindau questioning fundraising efforts.

"This is getting rather painful," said Mainiero, who at one point implored the board to pass the agreement without contributing any funds so the project could move forward. "There is nothing secretive here. Nothing is being hidden here. It was always the three municipalities that were counted on. You supported us all along. If you don't sign the agreement, we'll have to take you off the project," she said.

"I don't want to wait one more year. The steel that was given reminds us of that painful day. I want to see that up and saluted," said Rhodes, who designed what is now being referred to as Phase One of the memorial. "There's nothing smelly going on here. We're burning ourselves out to try to get something done by September 11."

The cost of the project has decreased significantly due to free services being provided by a construction team. In addition, last week Puglisi received a commitment from the Operating Engineers that they would move an 18-ton boulder that is pivotal to the memorial, saving about $5,000.

At the end of the meeting, Lindau was the only board member who did not express full support for the funds, saying she would think about it. Council member Richard Becker was absent, as he was last week as well, preparing for his Democratic Congressional primary June 26.

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