Remembering the victims of 9/11 at new memorial park

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The newly built 9/11 memorial park on Sound Avenue is dedicated to the first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, as well as all those who’ve been killed in the line of duty in Riverhead Town. A memorial march and vigil will be held Wednesday night.

On the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack today, the Reeves Park community will remember and honor the victims at a new memorial park that was years in the making.

A 9/11 Remembrance Walk will begin at 6 p.m. today at the corner of Marine Street and Park Road — known as Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive — followed by a walk to the memorial at 6:30 p.m., said Eric Biegler, the president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in Reeves Park.

The Reeves Park area has a strong connection to Sept. 11 in addition to Thomas Kelly, a New York City firefighter from Reeves Park who was killed on 9/11 fighting the blaze at the World Trade Center.

Mr. Kelly’s brother Bob Kelly also was a New York firefighter on 9/11 and his brother Jim was a New York City police officer at the time. They both own homes in Reeves Park as well, and a small memorial for Tom Kelly was placed on a stone at the corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road several years ago.

Mr. Biegler said the Riverhead Town Buildings and Grounds department did an “outstanding job” in developing the park and getting it ready in time for Sept. 11.

He urged people to participate in the memorial Wednesday.

“Please make time to come down that night,” he said. “Walk with us. Take time out to reflect on what happened a few miles west of us so many years ago that changed all our lives.”

Another FDNY member who died on 9/11 was Jonathan Ielpi, whose family owns property in Reeves park. His father Lee is retired from the FDNY and also a former president of the September 11th Families’ Association, which founded the World Trade Center Visitors Center near Ground Zero in 2006.

The 4.2 acre memorial park site had been the subject of a commercial development proposal filed in 2003 by EMB Enterprises, which is led by Inn at East Wind owner Kenney Barra. That development proposal ran into community opposition and residents and officials eventually convinced Suffolk County to buy the land in 2012 for $1.27 million for use as a memorial park honoring first responders and victims of the Sept. 11

Riverhead Town agreed to develop the park, while the county bought the land.

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