A clock and bell tower for Bayonne’s Fitzpatrick Park is coming closer to fruition.
The Bayonne City Council has awarded a contract for the construction of the tower. The council had sent the project out to bid in November, but had only received one bid in December, which it rejected and rebid the project.
The council voted unanimously on Jan. 19 to award the contract to Picerno-Giordano Construction of Kenilworth for $250,275. The contractor is the same one who recently completed the renovations of the park.
According to Public Works Director Tom Cotter, the construction and installation of the clock and bell tower should take about six months. Cotter said the base of the bell and clock tower and the electric system are already in place.
The bells, which were saved from a local cathedral that was demolished, have been sent out to be reconditioned. Once the bells have been prepped, the tower will be built.
Following that, it will be delivered to the city and installed at the southeast corner of 27th Street. When erected, the clock and bell tower will stand 35 feet tall.
The history of the bells
The tower will use bells that were saved from the former St. Joseph’s Syriac Catholic Cathedral at the corner of Avenue E and 25th Street prior to the church’s demolition. The church was built by Slovak immigrants in 1909 and served the local community throughout the late 19th, the 20th, and the early 21st centuries.
While the façade of the church could have been preserved through designation by the Bayonne Historical Preservation Committee, the Archdiocese of Newark declined to do so. This paved way for developers to level the area and start from scratch, demolishing the approximately 112-year-old church to construct to two six-story redevelopments on the site.
It was previously thought that the bells were approximately 90 years old, but they are actually all different ages from around the years 1897 and 1919. One of the bells is a former fire bell, and the other two were made for the church. Each has a different and distinct tone.
The tower was slated to be built near or as part of the new under-construction 25th Street pedestrian bridge before space limitations prevented that. Now the bell and clock tower will be constructed in the newly renovated Fitzpatrick Park, which underwent a facelift as well as storm water management upgrades.
The final portion of the park was finished on Christmas Eve, with the unveiling of a police-themed playground. And now the clock and bell tower will serve as the finishing touch.
“Our administration took the initiative to save the bells of St. Joseph’s Church,” Mayor James Davis said. “They will serve as a memorial to the Slovak immigrants who helped build the City of Bayonne. We look forward to installing bells from the church in a new tower that will be constructed in Fitzpatrick Park.”
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