This story was updated on Sept. 11 at 3:20 p.m.
On the eve of the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Nassau County lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday to rename Terrell Avenue Park in Oceanside to Detective Luis G. Alvarez Memorial Park. Alvarez lived in the hamlet and died in June of cancer related to his work at ground zero.
Alvarez, a former Bomb Squad detective, became the face of the battle to renew the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which benefits first responders, like Alvarez, who contracted illnesses from the toxic fumes at ground zero in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he testified before Congress just weeks before his death. On June 29, he died after a three-year battle with stage 4 colorectal cancer related to him working near the rubble in Lower Manhattan for three months. He was 53.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral in Astoria, Queens, on July 3, and lauded him for spending his dying days fighting for those who suffered like he did. Two months after his death, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran filed a resolution to rename the Oceanside park in his honor.
“This park will serve as a symbol and reminder of his sacrifice and unwavering fight for 9/11 first responders,” Curran said in a statement in August. “We hope his family, friends and the community will enjoy this tranquil neighborhood space dedicated in his honor.”
A frail and gaunt Alvarez sat beside comedian Jon Stewart during his televised appearance on Capitol Hill on June 11, where the former NYPD detective discussed his suffering.
“Less than 24 hours from now, I will be serving my 69th round of chemotherapy,” Alvarez said during his testimony. “I should not be here with you, but you made me come. You made me come because I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”
The House approved a bill in favor of replenishing the fund by $10.2 billion over the next 10 years, 402-12, on July 12, and the Senate voted, 97-2, to approve it on July 23. President Trump signed it into law on July 29.
Alvarez is among those credited with the push to extend the funding succeeding, and county officials dedicated the park to his memory as a way to recognize him for his efforts. In a statement, his family said they were grateful for the support.
“The outpouring of love and respect for Lou continues to be overwhelming to us all,” the Alvarez family said in a statement last month. “Lou was a very strong man and protector of family, friends and strangers. However, equally as important was the time he had to himself to quietly think and reflect. To have this beautiful meditation and reflection park in his hometown of Oceanside for adults and children to enjoy, is truly an honor to the legacy of Luis Alvarez as well as the entire Alvarez Family.”
The Oceanside community has scheduled A Night For Lou Alvarez at the Schoolhouse Green on Sept. 13 at 6:15 p.m, which will feature a candlelight ceremony in his memory, followed by a celebration of his life at EGP Oceanside.