Osprey sculpture flown to new home in Peconic

JULIE LANE PHOTO | The Morning Call osprey sculpture being guided to the top of the beam that will be its new home.

Nine years after Morning Call, the osprey sculpture created by artist Roberto Julio Bessin, first perched on Greenport’s waterfront, it flew via helicopter Thursday morning to Jean Cochran Park in Peconic, where it now stands as the town’s 9/11 memorial.

“I’m delighted and pleased,” said sculpture owner Jim Miller, who arranged for the transfer after efforts to find it a new home in the village failed.

“I was really torn,” Mr. Bessin said about the site transfer. “Greenport is such a wonderful village. There’s such warmth to the community.”

But watching workers from North Fork Welding secure it atop the I-beam from the 33rd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower, he said he’s pleased with the new home for his artwork.

“I’m liking the site more and more — the openness,” Mr. Bessin said. “For me, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. It had to be done for the 10th anniversary.”

At the same time, he said he hopes Greenport gets another sculpture, whether it’s one of his or a piece made by another artist.

A number of Greenporters complained when they learned about Mr. Miller’s decision to move the sculpture to Peconic, blaming the Village Board for failing to find an appropriate site.

“All my dad envisioned was people could lay their hands on the beam to feel its force,” said Tracey Orlando, Mr. Miller’s daughter.

She has been integrally involved in organizing the move and the memorial service to be held at the park on the morning of Sept. 11.

That service begins at the park at 9:30 a.m. and starts with a silent vigil walk from the Peconic recreation center to the park.

Those who wish to join the walk are asked to arrive by 9:15 a.m. Members of the Greenport Burton Potter Post 185 American Legion will be color guards for the ceremony said.

The osprey lifted off from Greenport at 8:20 a.m. Thursday as workers on the dock secured it to a hovering helicopter arranged by Ray Feeney of North Fork Helicopter in Peconic and provided by Air Crane Inc., a Georgia company. Dangling from the single line and clutching an American flag in its claws, the osprey flew out over Greenport Harbor and continued westward over Peconic Bay until reaching an area just west of Peconic Lane where the helicopter pivoted and headed north to the park.

Hours of planning meetings between Fred Schoenstein and his North Fork Welding crew, town engineer Jamie Richter, George and John Costello of Costello Marine, Mr. Clarke and Mr. Miller resulted in the decision to create a dirt pile to create a soft landing site for the sculpture. It came down gently and was well supported by the dirt while the North Fork Welding team worked to clean and tar the concrete base so they could erect the I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Once the beam was secured with tar and bolts, cranes lifted the osprey as dirt fell from its mouth. Workers used tethers to direct the movement of the sculpture until it was in place atop the beam.

“It’s nice to do business with professionals,” Mr. Bessin said about those who moved the sculpture. “I wish I could have flown with it; that would have been cool.”

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