City workers restoring Wall of Hope Memorial in Providence

City workers begin removing the tile panels in the center of the Wall of Hope Memorial, the colorful and heartfelt tribute to 9/11 at Water Place Park in Providence, on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (WJAR)

City workers on Tuesday began removing the tile panels in the center of the Wall of Hope Memorial, the colorful and heartfelt tribute to 9/11 at Water Place Park in Providence.

While the panels are going to storage, the plan is to bring them back.

Toby Ayers heads Rhode Island for Community and Justice, which is the group that organized the Wall of Hope in the wake of September 11.

More than 11,000 hand-painted tiles were created by people across the area. But it was only intended to be there for a few years.

"It held up really, really well over this time," Ayers said. "But you can see that, not the tile, but the panels, the framing, the steel framing around the tiles, has showed some degradation."

Part of the problem: the tunnel at the park is prone to flooding.

The project to move the panels for a re-design began in 2017, and there is a sign erected at the site explaining it.

But the work caught some regular visitors by surprise.

"I think everybody knows it's here. It's a landmark," said Donna Sowden. "It's a nice place to remember what happened for 9/11. I think a lot of people come here to look for their artwork. I wasn't sure why they were moving it."

Others shared similar sentiments.

"I've ways enjoyed it. It's nice to stop sometimes and just reflect and remember back," David Prudencio, who works in Providence, said. "I do hope it stays in some form."

The city parks department is overseeing the project, with students and faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design working on the new concept. Several other groups are also pitching in.

The mayor's office said there's no timeline on when the final design will be ready, but the plan is to have the project done later this year.

Ayers is happy that new thought and care is being invested.

"We have to preserve this," Ayers said. "It's really important to who we are, so I think it's really positive."


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