War memorial now a hot potato

Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce bowed out of its sponsorship of the 9-11 Memorial last week in a vote of its board of directors at its regularly scheduled December meeting. The board asked the Martin County Board of Commissioners, and they approved the request, to take possession of the World Trade Center’s artifact approved by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the creation of a memorial in Hobe Sound.

Hobe Sound is one of 3,000 communities across the US approved to display a piece of World Trade Center’s debris after the 9-11 terrorist attack. The commissioners also made it clear that “no public monies will be spent on this project.” A source close to Commissioner Patrick Hayes explained that it is up to the sponsoring body to fund the project and to develop an appropriate memorial, the location of which is yet to be determined.

In a community not used to controversy, the 9-11 Memorial discussion has brought unintended dissension, according to artist Nadia Utto, who spearheaded the project and supported selection of the Hobe Sound Community Building as the memorial site. Some residents of the surrounding neighborhood objected to the proposed location, and voiced their objections at a recent Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting.

Putting the War Memorial discussion of site location on the agenda of the NAC meeting might have confused some people, said Kevin Freeman, director of development for Martin County. “The Memorial is not a CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) project,” he said. “No money will be coming from the redevelopment budget for the memorial.” The NAC meeting was selected to facilitate community input, Freeman explained, since people from the community already would be attending the meeting to discuss the budget.