A Hillsdale Boy Scout planning to build a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a public park has obtained a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, but there's one catch — it's in the shape of a cross and officials aren't sure they can put up a religious symbol.
Eric Stigliano, who has planned the memorial for Veterans Park as his Eagle Scout project, got the piece of steel from fellow borough resident John Mockler, a retired welder who worked in New York and helped cut through the debris of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Stigliano said he had been searching for a piece of World Trade Center steel for more than a year, but had otherwise come up empty-handed until last weekend.
The Hillsdale Council gave Stigliano the go-ahead Monday for most of the project, which will include a granite pillar with a bronze plaque. They were reluctant to approve the cross.
"If you have a cross on that monument, you have to have something to represent other faiths," Councilman Frank Pizzella said.
Mockler apparently crafted steel from the World Trade Center into a variety of shapes and sizes, but now has only a few crosses and one Star of David left. Borough Attorney Eric Bernstein warned against appearing to support any specific religions over any others.
Mayor Max Arnowitz, who said he would not mind the cross, suggested seeing if Mockler could reshape the metal into a secular shape.
"We would still have the metal, but we wouldn't have the religious symbol," Arnowitz said.
Stigliano will return to the council next month to get approval for the exact wording on the plaque. He said he hopes to have the memorial completed by September 11 of this year for the borough's annual ceremony.