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Thread: Worcester Six "Memorial"

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    Worcester Six "Memorial"

    Panel unveils memorial proposal
    Thursday, October 10, 2002

    By Richard Nangle
    Telegram & Gazette Staff


    WORCESTER-- There were plenty of good arguments for looking at the site of the former Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building as a location for a memorial to the six firefighters who were killed there.
    But ultimately, those closest to the tragedy agreed that there was one site even better: the Grove Street Fire Department headquarters, which borders Salisbury Pond across from Institute Park.
    The proposal for a $3 million to $5 million memorial comes with the promise of being a focal point for a city always struggling with its identity. The proposal calls for the memorial to be illuminated at night, visible from main thoroughfares.
    Speaking at the unveiling of the proposal yesterday outside the Grove Street station, Mayor Timothy P. Murray said the tragedy was in many ways the city's finest hour. In grief, he said, people of Worcester found a commonality that endures.
    The movers behind this memorial project view it as an attraction for visitors to the city. The idea is that they would be inspired by the exhibit and the serenity of historic Institute Park surrounded by a vibrant inner city of factory buildings, well-trafficked roads, a busy fire station and WPI.
    The cold storage building is seen as sacred ground by many since the deaths of the firefighters, which at the time marked the worst loss of firefighters' lives in more than 20 years in a building fire in America.
    But many felt the site of the vacant building did not lend itself to a memorial designed for public viewing. It is below Interstate 290 and is in many ways isolated. The mementos that hang from a chain link fence there have their purpose, but it is a purpose far different from what is envisioned for the Grove Street station, said Michael J. Donoghue, chairman of the committee that developed the plan for a permanent memorial.

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    Worcester Fire Headquarters

    Worcester Six Memorial Site

    photo Neil H. Donahue

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    Worcester Picks Site for Memorial to Fallen Firefighters

    Worcester Picks Site for Memorial to Fallen Firefighters

    TOM FARMER
    Courtesy of Boston Herald


    Taking the first giant step toward erecting a monument for six firefighters killed in the horrific 1999 Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire, city officials announced yesterday the tribute will be built on a pond-front parcel adjacent to Worcester Fire Department headquarters.

    The 7-acre Grove Street site was selected over the Franklin Street fire scene for the memorial after a poll of the fallen firefighters' families.

    ``Memorials are reminders,'' said James Lyons, whose son, Lt. James F. ``Jay'' Lyons III, perished in the Dec. 3, 1999, fire, along with Lt. Thomas Spencer and Firefighters Paul A. Brotherton, Jeremiah M. Lucey, Timothy P. Jackson and Joseph T. McGuirk.

    ``They are reminders of our loss,'' Lyons added. ``They are also reminders of what we owe and we owe these six men what we hope will be a wonderful memorial to their extraordinary courage and to their sacrifice and to their loyalty.''

    The site selection was made under the guidance of Design Competitions International of Boston, which will also oversee the Worcester Fire Fighters Memorial Committee's selection of an architect. DCI president Kenneth W. Paolini said it hasn't been determined whether the committee will hire a private firm to solicit designs for the memorial or open the process as a public contest.

    Paolini and Frank Raffa, president of the Worcester firefighters' union, said the site selection, which took nearly a year, went to incredible lengths to determine the best place to honor the fallen men for years to come.

    While some family members, including Lyons, wanted the memorial at the place where their loved ones lost their lives, the Franklin Street site was ultimately rejected for a number of reasons, including its close proximity to a noisy rail yard and the busy Interstate 290 overpass, shadows that would be cast on the tribute from neighboring buildings and a smoke stack, and environmental issues connected to the rail yard and overpass that would make putting attractive greenery around the memorial a problem.

    ``They did an analysis of both sites and talked about the positives and negatives and Grove Street had it all over the Franklin Street site,'' said Raffa, who noted the fire site is not owned by the city. ``We're excited. This is going to be a beautiful memorial.''

    Paolini said the Grove Street site, which includes Salisbury Pond, is more of a park setting and the committee wants a finished product that will attract visitors for generations. He believes the families will be happy they selected the Grove Street location.

    ``It's an emotional issue as you can well understand, but for future generations that want to come honor these men, the Grove Street site has more potential. And no one will ever take away the emotion of that sacred ground (on Franklin Street).''

    Lyons said he fully supports the Grove Street site despite wanting the fire scene location. He and other committee members had a chance to visit Ground Zero in New York while there on memorial business earlier this year and Lyons said he was ``shocked by the devastation'' and touched by the families of FDNY firefighters who died on Sept. 11.

    ``They said, `We looked to the families of Worcester for hope because you are on the way (to healing). You are two to three years on the way and we see you are surviving and you give us hope.' That comment made me feel good,'' he said.

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