Written by Jackie Pierangelo Friday, 28 August 2009 00:00
The president of the Sandminers Monument, Leo Cimini, advises that this project will honor Port Washington’s proud and long sandmining history is moving along. Once completed, the monument will be installed on West Shore Road.
He reports that welder Carmine Meluzio of Port Washington has refurbished a section of the sand and gravel conveyor system, which is scheduled to be installed in the entrance to the tunnel where a major portion of the 140 million cubic yards of sand and gravel were delivered to New York City during the period from 1888 to 1988.
He notes that Mr. Meluzio originally intended to repair the existing mangled conveyor currently blocking the tunnel entrance but Frank Barker, a member of the Sandminers Monument Committee’s board of directors and president of the Barker Organization (the last company to mine sand in Port Washington) offered this section, which was easier to repair.
The Barker Organization will sandblast and paint this unit, which will soon be installed by them, inside the shaft as part of the proposed monument.
Edward Jonas, the artist/creator of the monument, is promising a November/December delivery and local contractor Frank Scobbo has requested access to the tunnel for cleaning and preparing concrete footings for the three statues and hand/skyline structure.
The maquette (photo) shows a diorama positioned in front of the last vestige of Port’s vast sandmining operations; a remnant shaft opening that conveyed washed sand and sorted gravel toward Hempstead Harbor onto barges, then onward to New York City. Workman’s hands are symbolically pouring Cow Bay Sand onto the lower tip of Manhattan to portray Port Washington’s unique role in the building of the Empire City’s skyscrapers, tunnels and sidewalks alike. Staged atop the shaft are bronze statues of three immigrant workmen who now hold a place of prominence and respect in gratitude for their long hours of hard labor under extreme outdoor working conditions year round. This monument may indeed be preeminent in all the U. S. A. to honor the common laborer and maverick industrialist. Port has a proud and important mining history that needs to be excavated from descendant memories and news chronicles of the past.
Concurrently, the committee has received enthusiastic support from local schools and teacher retirees who wish to expand upon the Port Washington Public Library’s cache of documents, photos and recorded oral interviews, (www.pwpl.org, Sand and City web link) begun at the eclipse of the working mines in the early ‘80s, to continue to uncover and develop a local history curricula of this legendary mining and labor legacy.
Funding for this project has been largely obtained by a large private donation and individual contributions by the community over the past four years. They are still soliciting contributions for personalized family and memorial plaques and bricks. Anyone interested can call Leo Cimini at 883-3826 or www.sandminers.com