9/11 Memorial Planned for Downtown Hayward

The memorial will honor fallen Hayward public
service officers and victims of 9/11.

Hayward’s 9/11 Memorial moved one step closer to becoming a reality last Thursday, as the city planning commission unanimously voted in favor of the project.

The memorial, designed by Hayward resident and CSU East Bay alumnus Michael L. Emerson, is planned to be located on the corner of Mission and D Street, next to the abandoned City Hall and across from the Hayward Main Library.

“As a Marine Corps veteran, I was in the first Gulf War, and 9/11 devastated me as much as anyone else, maybe more,” Emerson said.

Not long after 9/11, Emerson approached the city of Hayward and asked to build a memorial. Former mayor, Roberta Cooper, turned the project down, he said, and told him that the city was not interested and not to bother speaking to the city council.

“That’s the reason why over the years, other city council people have said we’re really sorry that happened, if you want to do something here we’ll support you 100 percent, which I’m hoping will be the case,” Emerson said.

Mayor Michael Sweeney and Councilman Greg Jones have previously expressed interest in the project, Emerson told the city council in February.

Emerson previously took part in building the national Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Penn., the Flight 93 memorial in Union City and Veterans Memorial in Castro Valley. He is currently building memorials in Las Vegas and Washington D.C.

The project received support from many local public officials, including Rep. Eric Swalwell and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle. Senator Diane Feinstein has also expressed support for the memorial.

The memorial features red granite benches, with the words “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” paved in gray brick in the center. A flag stands in the middle, reaching up from the center stone dedicated to the fallen public safety officers of Hayward. Their names will be engraved into the stone honoring their service to the city, Emerson said.

Four black granite monoliths, each 10 feet tall, represent the four airplanes that were hijacked on 9/11 and will feature a collage of images illustrating the impact of the event.

The project will not cost much to maintain, Emerson said. Cleaning costs could be covered by San Ramon based company Cleaner One who washes his other memorials for free. The only cost to the city would be maintaining lighting, he said.

Concerns over birds creating the need for extra maintenance of the memorial prompted the brief consideration of adding spikes, but Emerson vehemently opposed the idea.

“Hopefully the birds will be respectful,” he said, making light of the situation.

Hayward resident Jean Ohlssen said she supports building a 9/11 memorial in Hayward.

“I think it’s a terrific idea and it’s a beautiful monument. The shape of it, the looks of it and everything,” Ohlssen said. “I think it’s going to be great and for somebody to go by there, it’s very reflective.”

Emerson estimated that the project will cost $100,000. All costs will be covered by donations from outside groups. The red granite has already been donated, he said. The memorial should take only two months to complete, and the current goal is to dedicate the site by Sept. 11, 2014.

“The city did an excellent job with the selection because it’s ready. It really is ready. Once I collect the materials and we get the final building plans and we have the money, we’re ready to go,” Emerson said.

The project will be put before city council on June 4th, according to Hayward planning director David Rizk.