With the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks last week, one local man had a slightly different perspective of the national tragedy.
Howell native Paul Fosgreen, who now resides in Jackson, is an electrician at the National September 11 Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center site and said he remains in awe of the events of that day.
He describes the worksite, where he is currently supervising a team of 18 electricians installing the fire alarm systems, as unique. “The entire site will be a showplace,” he said.
He recognizes the understandable pride his team has working this particular job. “There’s a lot of reverence. The guys understand the magnitude, the historic significance,” not only for working where thousands perished 10 years ago but for building something new, something to be admired and cherished.
“We all knew the stories of the guys that put up the original towers; we looked up to those guys,” Fosgreen said. “We’re those guys now. It’s not like any other job.”
Fosgreen, a third generation electrician – “My grandfather started in 1926, my father in 1960, and I started in 1986,” he said, with obvious pride – knew shortly after September 11, when he had been working at a job site on Manhattans’ Upper East Side, he’d work at Ground Zero in some capacity. “It’s nothing I necessarily wanted but I knew eventually I’d be going to the World Trade Center.” Working for Five Star Electric, whom he described as the biggest electrical contractor in New York City, almost guaranteed Fosgreen would be doing something there. “They’ve got jobs all over the site,” he said.
According to Fosgreen, the Musuem and Memorial should be something to behold when it finally opens to the public, which is still scheduled for 2012. “The work on the main chiller plant is special. It will draw water in from the river in big 24-inch pipes which run under the West Side Highway,” Fosgreen explained. Returning the water back to the Hudson will make the system notably “green.”
Fosgreen has noticed more pride from his crew on this job. Whether it’s an extra wind of tape or just making certain that everything is just so, “Everyone realizes the entire world will be watching. There’s a certain amount of New York pride, too. We want to show that we can get this done.”
For his part, Fosgreen acknowledged more pressure on him as a supervisor. “There’s a little more pressure. Things that you think about at the end of a job – finishing on time, coming in under budget – with this, there’s a lot more thinking about that. I’m thinking about stuff like that well before the end of the job,” with months or maybe a year to go, or more, before the job is finished.
Moreover, for Fosgreen and his team, there is the memory of what happened there 10 years ago which makes this job different, special. Sacred. “It’s not something the guys wear on their sleeves. You feel it deep down.”