GENEVA — The city has been paying homage to those who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks — as well as those who responded in their aftermath — for 16 years, but tomorrow morning’s ceremony may be more poignant than ever.
The 10 a.m. event near Long Pier at Lakefront Park comes following the arrest last week of a Yates County woman, who is accused of spray-painting a Sept. 11 monument dedicated to first responders that was donated by the Fratto family, as well as a nearby World War II Memorial.
The city praised its public works employees for quickly cleaning the memorials that were vandalized Aug. 26, although police said some of the spray paint is still faintly visible because workers feared damaging the monuments with stronger chemicals.
“While we are disappointed and saddened by the vandalism that occurred, we are grateful for the work of the Geneva Police Department in bringing this person to justice,” said Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers by email.
Ralph Fratto, one of the founders of Geneva Granite, which gave the 9/11 memorial to the city, said the vandalism is disappointing, but he expressed concern for the suspect as well.
“I honestly believe that anybody that does something like that, you know, they’re not right,” he said. “I thought it was an awful thing. Naturally, it’s not something you want to see.”
Fratto said it might be time for a surveillance camera near the monument, and Blowers said the city is looking into installing one there.
As for any remaining damage, Fratto said Geneva Granite, which he co-founded, will examine whether there is more it can do to clean up the 9/11 monument.
“They (the city) did a very good job, but we’ll take a look at it,” he said.
On a more personal note, the ceremony marks the first without John Greco, one of the city’s biggest supporters of the ceremony and a longtime friend of Fratto’s.
Fratto recalled Monday that it was Greco who urged him to move the memorial that was in front of Geneva Granite on Border City Road for many years to Lakefront Park three years ago.
While Fratto credits Greco’s perseverance, the former city councilor was insistent in 2016 on who should get props for the monument’s move to Geneva’s lakefront.
“I want all the credit to go to the Fratto family,” Greco said at the time.
Blowers said Greco was instrumental in Geneva’s annual commemoration of the attacks.
“John Greco has always played a critical role in the organization and facilitation of the annual 9/11 ceremony, working alongside the City Clerk’s Office,” Blowers said. “His passion for public safety and the Geneva community was unrivaled, and anyone who knew him could tell you that after talking to him for just a few minutes.”
City Clerk Lori Guinan, part of the organizing team for the event, agreed that Greco played an integral role each year.
“When I came to work for the city, I quickly learned that Councilor John Greco was very passionate about the 9/11 ceremony and remembering the people who lost their lives on that awful day,” Guinan said by email. “Over the years, I have offered additions to the program, which John was always happy to include. The number of people who attend seems to increase every year, and that makes me realize that we are doing something important here every Sept. 11, thanks to John.”
Many city offices will be closed from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday to allow employees to attend the ceremony. Residents who need assistance from a city department during that hour are asked to call ahead to verify if someone will be in the office.