Move to park proposed for steel memorial
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 13:05

The memorial to steelworkers who died at the Sparrows Point mill likely will be moved to a new home at Heritage Park. photo by Bill Gates

Monument to be re-dedicated in September

by Bill Gates

A memorial for steelworkers who lost their lives in accidents at the Sparrows Point steel mill has sat in front of the Dundalk Avenue union hall for nearly 20 years.
    But the end of the mill, the closing of the local steelworkers union and the decision to sell the  union hall left the memorial in need of a new home.
    A need that did not long go unmet.
    Three possible locations were offered shortly after the issue was first brought to light in the May 24 edition of The Eagle.
    “We’re leaning toward putting [the memorial] in Heritage Park,” said Jim Strong, the Maryland Director for the United Steelworkers union. “There’s a movement to put it there.”
    Other options included Sparrows Point High School and St. Luke Catholic Church in Edgemere.
    The church contacted the steelworkers union the day after the article ran in The Eagle, Strong said.
    Sparrows Point High principal Sam Wynkoop felt his school grounds would be a great spot for the memorial due to the mill’s deep historic ties to the community the school serves.
    But Heritage Park was the favored spot for many retired steelworkers, including former Local 2609 president Don Kellner.
    Kellner led the drive to raise money for the memorial back in the early 1990’s.
    The memorial, which was dedicated in November 1993, holds the names of 116 steelworkers who died in accidents at the Sparrows Point mill.
    “Heritage Park makes sense, and it’s more visible,” Strong said. “There’s the theme of the park, and it’s where retirees want the memorial to go.”
    The union is looking at a spot near the Heritage Park pavilion, on a plot of land with three trees across the street from Dundalk Elementary School.
    If the move is approved by Baltimore County, the union plans to hold a re-dedication ceremony.
    The ceremony is very tentatively set for mid-September, dependent upon approval from the county and physically moving the memorial.
    “Our goal is to have the re-dedication ceremony on September 14,” Strong said. “But we can’t control what Baltimore County does.”
    The union presented the proposal to the Baltimore County Council last week.
    “We had some discussion with the administration,” councilman John Olszewski Sr. (7th District) said. “They’re going to conduct a site visit and see what they have to do to get [the memorial] there.”
    County engineers must make sure there are no underground wires or pipes at that spot in Heritage Park, and measure the size and weight of the memorial to see what will be required for the actual move.
    Strong was to meet with Baltimore County administrators on Tuesday to discuss the project.
    “We think it can be put in Heritage Park,” Strong said. “The county thinks it can be put there, and we have the support of Baltimore County Recreation and Parks and of the Heritage Association.”
    Olszewski, who has been helping with the project at Kellner’s request, said money is not an issue.
    “Something like this, people will donate money and time, and the union will help out,” Olszewski said. “It’s the end of an era, and what better place to keep the memory alive than Heritage Park.
    “For me, it’s a no-brainer. I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen.”