WNYT.com

Dottie Pepper rallies support for Saratoga's 9/11 memorial

Posted at: 09/26/2013 5:05 PM
Updated at: 09/26/2013 6:23 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

Dottie Pepper discusses plans to improve 9/11 memorial
Dottie Pepper discusses plans to improve 9/11 memorial
Photo: WNYT

SARATOGA SPRINGS - This city's monument to the victims of 9-11 arrived with great fanfare.

It was sculpted from beams salvaged from the downed World Trade Center.

But the ceremony that came with its 2012 dedication was soon forgotten.

According to well-known Saratogian and retired professional golfer, Dottie Pepper, there's no plan to care for and beautify the grounds surrounding the memorial. And it shows. The only flowers blooming there now are a solitary bucket of Mums, presumably placed by a Good Samaritan.

"Once they got it in, all of the energy was gone," she said during an interview near the monument.

Enter Pepper, the fierce former competitor, with the energy and now the time, to take on this project.

"I'm home now more often and this is the kind of thing I think is really important for the city, for us to remember what happened on that horrible day."

Pepper has worked the phones and social media, urging people, businesses and politicians to work together on a permanent plan to care for the memorial.

In just two weeks, she's assembled a diverse team committed to make it happen. Sunnyside Gardens is among those happy to help.

"Dottie's vision I think is something more permanent, so there'll be a more permanent landscape there," said Ned Chapman, owner of the popular garden center.

Pepper and others will be talking to the police and fire departments to make sure there's a ceremony each year to remember the victims of 9-11. An event was not held this year.

"This has become a very special place, even in the last couple weeks, noticing how many people come by, spend some time, read the sign, understand what's here," Pepper said. "And now it's our job to finish it."

Dottie has spoken to and gotten the support of so many politicians, it begs the question, is there a political run in her future.

"No thank you," she laughs. "I'm happy to be the ambassador and the glue between the parties and get everybody working on the same page."

Pepper has gotten the support of the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Club, whose members will erect a permanent American flagpole at the site, where currently there is none.

She says once the permanent plan is in place, there'll be an opportunity for the public to contribute.