PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The opening of a memorial for a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people more than a decade ago is being delayed and will not open this weekend as scheduled, organizers announced Monday.
The foundation working to build the memorial at the site of The Station fire said construction on the memorial is not ready, and it will instead be completed in the spring.
Gina Russo, a fire survivor and president of the group, said it was a tough decision, and the leadership of the effort did not want to upset the families of those who died. But she said too many things were unfinished at the site, including unfinished retaining walls, landscaping, paving, a gazebo-type structure, and gateway at the entrance.
“Construction is moving along. It’s just not where it’s going to need to be for Sunday,” she said. “It’s hard to hear and it’s hard to make the decision, because mentally I was ready. But it’s not where it needs to be for these families. They deserve for it to be 100 percent.”
The February 2003 blaze in West Warwick was started when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White set fire to flammable foam inside the club. More than 200 people were injured in the fire.
Russo said the good news is that the foundation has reached its $2 million fundraising goal, and could even surpass it. That would leave more money to maintain the site in perpetuity.
Former Gov. Don Carcieri, co-chairman of the fundraising effort, said in a news release that the foundation was grateful to those who have donated to the memorial effort.
“It’s important that the park be fully complete to respect the memory of those who died there,” he said. “The full effect of this unique sanctuary will best be realized when both building and landscaping are complete.”
Russo said there were a variety of factors that delayed the work, including some materials were in high demand or could not be shipped or delivered on time. Much of the work going into the memorial is being done by volunteers, she said.
Russo said a chain link fence that surrounds the site will remain in place while construction is completed.