A monument for Montclair’s moon man?

A monument for Montclair’s moon man?

Buzz Aldrin could get a monument to his historic moon landing in his boyhood hometown.

Second Ward Township Councilwoman Robin Schlager said the township is considering plans for a monument that could go up in a public area in the park next to Aldrin’s alma mater, Montclair High School.

“We’re considering options of creating a commemorative monument, probably in Rand Park,” Schlager said.

Schlager said the monument is likely to include a bust of Aldrin along with a replica of the moon set on a pedestal of brick or stone.

Mayor Robert Jackson said that residents began discussing the possibility of creating a more public monument to Aldrin following his June 2013 visit to Montclair.

During his visit, Aldrin stopped by the site of his family’s home on Princeton Place and was greeted by municipal officials, members of the Board of Education, residents and schoolchildren at a ceremony in Montclair High School and, later in the day, in the Montclair Public Library.

During the MHS event, Aldrin participated in the unveiling of a plaque commemorating his July 20, 1969, landing on the moon with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, during which Aldrin became the second man to set foot on the lunar surface.

“There has been a lot of talk about what to do for Mr. Aldrin and I know that Robin [Schlager] has been spearheading that with some other folks,” Jackson said. “I’m perfectly open to hearing ideas.”

Jackson said a bronze bust is one proposal. “That’s a good one among a number of other good ones,” he said.

Board of Education President Robin Kulwin said Aldrin’s visit last spring generated plenty of excitement.

“There was a lot of buzz about Buzz when Buzz came last year,” Kulwin said. “Goodness knows he is considered a treasure from Montclair.”

Kulwin said there were rumors that the Board of Education might rename one of the Montclair School District’s 11 schools in Aldrin’s honor. However she explained that there hasn’t been a formal proposal to do so placed before the board.

“I think any time you talk about naming a school or renaming a school, a huge first, second, and third step would be to involve the community,” Kulwin explained. “That’s not to my mind a small group decision.

“There are some things that you can do very quickly and turn on a dime, and then there are others that take a little bit more,” she said. “This is certainly one that would require community input.”

In addition to MHS, where Aldrin played on the Mounties’ 1946 state championship football team in his senior year, the Apollo 11 astronaut also attended Mount Hebron and Edgemont schools.

Mount Hebron honored Aldrin with a bust displayed prominently in the school’s main lobby, and MHS named its newest small learning community dedicated to science and technology the Buzz Aldrin STEM Academy.

“We just wanted to honor Mr. Aldrin’s contributions to Montclair High School, to science and to space exploration,” MHS Principal James Earle explained.

“I think it’s awesome for our students to know that someone like Buzz Aldrin, who did so much for our country, walked these same halls, sat in these same classrooms, and lived in this community,” observed Earle.

The principal said he hopes the monument, if authorized, would be placed in a prominent location.

“We wouldn’t want it some place where it wouldn’t be seen,’ he said. “He means so much to our school, [and] to the community.”

Before the monument can be placed, Schlager said several important steps will have to be completed.

Before the monument can be placed, Schlager said several important steps will have to be completed.

If the committee headed by Schlager opts for a bust of Aldrin, then the project would have to be vetted by the township’s memorial honorarium group, a designer would have to be selected, and a final design chosen.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Schlager said. “We really haven’t decided on the details of what shape a monument would take. It is our hope to do that in the near future.”

Schlager said momentum for the project was slowed by the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Several large trees in Rand Park were toppled by the storm and others were severely damaged.

Essex Country recently completed a dredging operation removing tree trunks and other debris from Toney’s Brook, which bisects the park. The township has repaired the park’s stone walkways and installed several new benches.

Funds for the monument project, which is expected to cost a minimum of $20,000 for design and fabrication, would also have to be raised from the public.

“We could use a grassroots effort to build support and help raise funds for the monument,” Schlager said. “We could organize a ‘Friends of Rand Park Committee’ that could solicit private donations, or perhaps we could have students conduct a ‘pennies for Buzz’ fundraising campaign. It’s something for us to consider.”

MHS junior Marisol Vargas said the monument was “a good idea.”

“I would contribute to a fund drive,” Vargas said. “Not too many schools can say they have an alum who walked on the moon.”

Read the Original Article at northjersey.com

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