CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– Ben Rogers was eager to purchase a brick as part of a memorial improvement project for the Charleston 9 Memorial on Savannah Highway.
The Hanahan resident saw the fundraiser led by Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club Station 28 and thought it was a good way to beautify the memorial and honor the fallen firefighters.
“A site is nice but it just needs something a little bit more to accomplish that. Get it paved so families can get out there and pay their respects,” said Rogers. “See something mean something,” he added.
He purchased the brick in 2016 and chose to engrave his brother’s name in honor of his life as a firefighter.
“I thought it was a way to honor him and at the same time honor these men that give their life in service to others. Something that in my opinion needs doing,” he said.
The project was originally slated for completion in time for 2017, the tenth anniversary of the Sofa Superstore fire. Three years later, he said he has received little information on what caused the delays so he called the Count on 2 Investigators.
“Mostly, it’s just disappointing now that it’s not happening or at least for me hasn’t happened yet. It should be done. It’s been thirteen years and four years since they started this drive. They should have it done,” he said.
According to Rogers, he’s not concerned about the money he spent on the brick but wants to ensure the memorial is improved.
After News 2’s interview with Rogers, the Fire and Iron Club chapter posted a detailed update on their web page and apologized about the lack of communication.
“There have been a lot of changes since that first meeting in 2014, but rest assured that Station 28 has always been there to poke the bear and keep this project moving and trust me when I tell you it has been a long and exhausting process,” wrote Station 28 Vice President Jack deTournillon.
The group’s vice president wrote that the plan hit roadblocks when the City of Charleston purchased the neighboring property and announced plans to build the new Station 11.
City of Charleston Parks Director Jason Kronsberg, said the plans ensure the memorial and Station 11 remain cohesive.
“It will all come together in a seamless fashion with the brick program, the new station 11, and the new memorial park area,” Kronsberg said.
“The Charleston Fire Department committee has put great effort in redesigning the site with rough drawings and concepts that will make visiting the memorial an experience you’ll feel. I am very excited and hopeful of the new design. The rough drawing has been well received by the City Parks Department which will oversee the project and our drawing has been submitted for an engineered drawing. The memorial bricks will match the station brick color and there are nine tall windows of the apparatus stall that look out over the memorial site so both properties will complement each other.”
Station 28 Vice President Jack deTournillon.
Station 11 is slated for completion next month. Kronsberg said the memorial improvement project will follow starting with new landscaping and a retention pond connecting the two properties.
“It certainly will enhance the memorial experience. There are many features in the building that touch base with the project. The nine memorial windows, the arch that speaks to the language of fire stations,” said Kronsberg. “That apparatus bay when the light comes off the windows overlooking the memorial it is really going to be something special,” he added.
Rogers said he is glad things seem to be moving forward.
News 2 requested conceptual plans for the memorial area. We will post them online as soon as they come into the newsroom.