The memorial to Flight 3407 on Long Street in Clarence Center – where the home of Karen and Douglas C. Wielinski once stood – will be transferred to the Town of Clarence.
The Town Board on Wednesday night approved taking over the property at 6038 Long St. at no charge, although the details of the contract are still to be worked out. Members of the families of the victims attended the meeting.
“The families want the peace of knowing that this hallowed ground is going to be preserved and protected and maintained properly forever,” said Michael B. Powers, president of Remember Flight 3407 Inc., the nonprofit organization that has guided the creation of the memorial.
The families, the foundation and the town are in agreement that nothing should change in the memorial, and this will be stipulated in the deed, Powers said.
The memorial features a walkway, in the shape of an airplane wing, that is as long as the plane. It has 51 steppingstones, signifying the victims, including one unborn child, of the Feb. 12, 2009, crash. There are 12 pear trees, reflecting the date of the accident, and a crimson king maple in memory of Doug Wielinski, who was killed when Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed into his home.
Powers said that it makes sense for the town to take ownership. “This is truly an historic place,” he said. “Tragic but historic. It’s town history, and it’s community history.”
“They know we’ll do the right thing by maintaining it,” Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. said.
The Wielinski family also wants separation from the site, Powers said. “The Wielinski family should not be forced to own and be ultimately responsible for a site that truly belongs to the community,” he said. “This ceased being their home on Feb. 12, 2009, and continuing to own it has been very difficult for them.”
Remember Flight 3407, with community input, came up with the design and funding for the memorial, and the group has paid for 20 years of maintenance to the lot. Then the town will take over.