A local business owner and his wife recently made a generous donation towards Safety Harbor’s planned 9/11 memorial, paving the way for the city to have the downtown monument constructed in time for its 2014 remembrance ceremony.
Michael and Mia Marie Shaluly, owners of Mastercut Tools on Harbor Lake Drive as well as the Agartha bookstore on Main Street, presented a check to the City in the amount of $21,115.00 during the Dec. 2 commission meeting.
The amount was nearly enough to cover the entire cost of the memorial, which is estimated to be $25,000.
Safety Harbor Fire Department Chief Joe Accetta, who has been a driving force behind the project, said he was extremely grateful for the Shaluly’s generous contribution.
“We were very happy,” Chief Accetta told Safety Harbor Connect. “Now we can move forward with the project, which we hope to have completed by Sept. 11, 2014.”
According Accetta and seen in this conceptual drawing, the memorial will consist of a small park located on Main Street between Safety Harbor City Hall and SHFD Fire Station #52.
The area will feature three benches designed to honor the three 9/11 sites, along with a piece of steel from the Twin Towers on a granite pedestal encased in glass and surrounded by engraved brick pavers.
Until the Shaluly’s had donated their money, all the funding for the project was coming from the pavers, which can be purchased through the project’s adopt-a-brick program.
The plan was a daunting one, with pavers costing just $50.00 and $100.00. But thanks to the Shaluly’s contribution, now Accetta and the City can rest easy knowing there should be little problem raising the remaining funds.
“Six weeks ago the Shaluly’s contacted me and asked where we were (with the project) and how they could help,” the chief recalled. “Their generous gift was enough to allow us to move forward with the project.”
Safety Harbor Connect caught up with Michael Shaluly as he was preparing to read a Christmas story to guests at his downtown bookstore last week.
The successful businessman has been reluctant to take credit for his contribution to the memorial, but he stressed how important it was for him and his wife to see the City be able to move forward with the project.
“Once we found out the memorial was going to be right here on Main Street we said it’s a no-brainer, we have to do something to contribute,” he said. “We met with Chief Joe to see what they were looking for, and he told us they were struggling to get funding started.”
The Shalulys immediately came up with a plan to help out; they put up posters and collection boxes at their two businesses and asked their 100+ employees to contribute.
After the donations were collected, the couple put in the remaining amount needed to get to their desired goal, which wound up being much more than the original estimate.
“We had planned on doubling the collected amount, but when we saw that was still going to leave us far short of our goal, we put up the rest,” Shaluly admitted. “But it was wonderful to see all the contributions from our employees. They were extremely generous.”
Shaluly said he was touched by Chief Accetta’s personal stories of the department’s involvement in the aftermath of the tragedy, when a handful of SHFD officers went up to New York City to help with the clean up and rescue efforts.
The fact that the donation will play a major part in having the city be able to recognize the department’s bravery as well as honor the memory of the tragedy is something that is very special to Shaluly, his family and his employees.
“We’re always happy to help the community, and we felt this was a perfect opportunity to do so,” he said. “When you can give to something that will continue to give back long after you’re gone, that’s a wonderful feeling.”
To learn more about the Safety Harbor 9/11 Memorial, or to contribute to the the adopt-a-brick-program, visit this section of the City of Safety Harbor’s website.