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OAK GROVE IN AMHERST TO HONOR TERRORIST VICTIMS

Amherst will honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a grove of oak trees along the Ellicott Creek Bike Path.

The town is establishing Amherst Memorial Hill on a tract of land that eventually will include at least 100 trees, as well as a permanent flag and a bench.

The project, to be undertaken in phases, will be funded largely with donations, which will be used to purchase the trees and buy plaques for listing the donors.

A tree and plaque will cost $350, Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick said, adding that she plans to be among the first to donate.

People can make lesser donations toward the purchase of trees, but only those contributing $350 or more quality for a plaque, she said.

"The planting of the trees along the trailway represents our duty to remember the victims of this senseless act and to preserve those memories for the next generation, who hopefully will only know of this terrible tragedy through our testimony and memorials we create," Grelick said.

As part of the first phase, the town hopes to plant 10 trees. In addition to Grelick, two other donors have stepped forward: the Civil Service Employees Association and Amherst Heritage.

The memorial is being designed by Robert Walter, a landscape architect in the Amherst Planning Department. The grove will be seven-tenths of a mile from the trail entrance near North Forest and Maple roads, Grelick said.

She described the choice of oak trees as a symbolic gesture.

"The national tree is the oak," she said. "It is a strong, growing tree. We would like to do a grove of oak trees that represent strength and unity."

The town plans to plant the first 10 trees Oct. 20, when Amherst Memorial Park is scheduled to be dedicated.

Representatives from veterans groups, the military, police and firefighters are expected to attend the ceremony, along with civic and political leaders and members of a school student chorus. The public is also invited. The town plans a second tree-planting in the spring.

Anyone interested in making a donation should call the supervisor's office at 631-7032.

e-mail: sschulman@buffnews.com

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