New Governor Plans to Get BPC Opinions Regarding Essential Workers Monument
Above: Newly installed Governor Kathy Hochul, who wants to continue with plans for an Essential Workers Monument in Battery Park City. Below: Former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in disgrace in August.
While many residents and community activists may have hoped that plans for an Essential Workers Monument in Battery Park City had perished in tandem with the political demise of former Governor Andrew Cuomo (who resigned in disgrace, in August), his successor may have other ideas.
Visiting the World Trade Center site last Wednesday as part of the twentieth anniversary observances of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, newly installed Governor Kathy Hochul told a reporter from NY1 News that her predecessor, “was correct — there needs to be an appropriate memorial.” When asked about local opposition to Mr. Cuomo’s original plan, Governor Hochul added, “it will be very easy for me to reach out and get the opinions of the community, but this absolutely has to happen.”
Ms Hochul’s announcement comes in the wake of months of controversy, which began on June 24, when then-Governor Cuomo announced that he planned to create a monument (located in Rockefeller Park), to honor the service and sacrifice of New York’s essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This disclosure came as a surprise to Lower Manhattan community leaders and elected officials, who had not been consulted by the Governor, or his original Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee — a panel that did not count any Downtown residents among its members, and never held a single public meeting. The further revelations that the Governor planned to begin construction within 48 hours, without any public comment or review, and have this project completed by Labor Day, sparked bitter criticism.
Residents of Battery Park City reacted with fury, mounting a four-day, round-the-clock protest in Rockefeller Park, during which local parents and children camped out in early July, through blistering heat and torrential rains, to prevent demolition work from beginning. This same group, rallying under the social media banner of Pause the Saws, also began preparing for litigation, seeking legal remedies to delay construction work.
BPCA chairman George Tsunis answered these concerns by appearing at the protest and announcing, “this site is off the table.” He also convened multiple days of meetings with community leaders, seeking a compromise solution, which focused on possible alternate sites within the community.
This process culminated on July 12, when Congressman Jerry Nadler led a rally at the Irish Hunger Memorial — the lawns beside which were proposed as one possible alternate site, after the plan for Rockefeller Park had been shelved. Hours before this event, Mr. Tsunis announced a further compromise, saying, “we will put together a new and expanded advisory committee comprised of local stakeholders, essential worker representatives, and others to review options within Battery Park City to select a site and design for a welcome and world-class monument our essential workers so richly deserve. We want grieving families of lost essential workers to know that Battery Park City respects their sacrifice and contribution, but Battery Park City residents feel strongly and potential litigation by residents would further extend the process.”
The membership of that new Advisory Committee was announced on July 28. The panel’s 17 members, include Mr. Tsunis, and two other members of the BPCA board: Martha Gallo (the Authority’s vice chair, who lives in Battery Park City), and Catherine McVay Hughes (who lives in Lower Manhattan, and is a former chair of Community Board 1).
Also serving on the Advisory Committee will be nine Battery Park City residents and local leaders who are not affiliated with the Authority. These include three members of Community Board 1 (CB1): Tammy Meltzer (the Board’s chair), Justine Cuccia (who chairs CB1’s Battery Park City Committee), and Robin Forst (a public member of CB1, who also serves as vice president of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association). They will be joined by Glenn Plaskin, a longtime Battery Park City tenant advocate. The panel will also have five members of the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association, the grassroots organization formed in the wake of the Pause the Saws protest: Tristan Snell, Kelly McGowan, Gregory Sheindlin, Rafael Torres, and Kavita Beren — all of whom participated in the Rockefeller Park protest.
The fact that a majority of this panel consists of Battery Park City residents may represent a significant step in the direction that protestors and community leaders originally called for, in terms of greater transparency and consultation with local leaders.
Mr. Tsunis said, “the new Battery Park City Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee brings a diverse array of local voices together with representatives of essential workers groups and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for a monument befitting the service of those who sacrificed so much for all of us. I look forward to building on the productive, community-based dialogue from these past weeks to deliver a fitting and meaningful monument in Battery Park City’s public space that all New Yorkers can appreciate.”
That noted, one point of contention appears to remain. As Mr. Tsunis noted, he envisions the work of the Committee as aiming, “to deliver a fitting and meaningful monument in Battery Park City’s public space.”
At CB1’s meeting on July 28, multiple Board members voiced their ongoing reservations about locating the Essential Workers Monument anywhere within Battery Park City. These concerns stem from the fact that the community was among those least-affected by COVID-19 of any in New York State, and that the local shortage of affordable housing means very few essential workers can live here. (In a related development, several elected officials in areas of New York where COVID-19 exacted a more grievous toll have volunteered to have the Essential Workers Monument located in their districts.)
A resolution enacted at that meeting urged the Governor to, “place the monument in a location outside of Battery Park City” and “use the monument as an opportunity to add green space and trees to a community that is lacking in those amenities.”
The same resolution demanded that, “the BPCA pledge in writing that no more memorials or monuments will be constructed in Battery Park City and that by-law revisions be made so that the pledge is binding upon future Governors and iterations of the BPCA.”
This last injunction was a reference to the fact Governor Cuomo had already built several other such tributes in the community in recent years, including the Hurricane Maria Memorial (at Chambers Street and River Terrace) and the Mother Cabrini Memorial (near South Cove). Each of these, along with the Essential Workers Monument, seemed calibrated to curry favor with politically important constituencies as he faced (prior to his sudden departure from office last month) a tough bid for a fourth term in 2022. In each case, Battery Park City appeared to have been chosen for no more compelling reason than it is one of the few areas of New York City over which the Governor exercises direct control. As Mr. Tsunis acknowledged during a July 7 meeting of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, “we are suffering from memorial fatigue.”
In Memoriam: Gus Ouranitsas
A Pillar of the Community Passes from the Scene
Konstantinos (Gus) Ouranitsas, a pillar of the Battery Park City community and the longtime Resident Manager of the Liberty Court condominium, passed away at age 65 on Friday, September 10, surrounded by his family.
Mr. Ouranitsas, who succumbed to complications from pancreatic cancer, is survived by his devoted wife of 33 years, Maria; his loving children, Konstantine, Nestor, and Marina; his mother, Eleni; and his sister, Vasiliki Tourloukis, along with many nieces, nephews, cousins and their families.
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
The urgent radio call to “all available boats” went out from the United States Coast Guard on the morning of 9/11, requesting help from any mariner to help evacuate people from the shores of Lower Manhattan. The brave captains and crews of more than 100 boats responded—tugs, ferries, pleasure boats, police boats, tiny motorboats, and more—and an estimated 500,000 people were rescued in a few short hours and taken across the water to safety.
On September 10, 2021, a flotilla gathered in New York Harbor to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 Boatlift. Fireboats sprayed long arcs of river water in the bright sun and vessels of all kinds paraded past a shoreside ceremony at Wagner Park (photo above). The fleet was blessed, and mariners of all stripes watched and remembered that fateful day two decades ago.
Alison Simko photo and text
A Resident’s Recollections from the Months After September 11, 2001
Everybody asks me what it is like to live “down there.” They mean, of course, near Ground Zero, which is a block away from my front door. The sounds, smells, and changes that pervade my daily life here make it hard for me to know how to respond with an easy, short answer.
Today it is gray. The streets are wet, not from rain, but from the sanitation trucks that pass by every few hours spraying strong jets of water to keep down the dust. To read more…
The Broadsheet Sept 7 – 20
Wondering Whether You Have Been Worth the Windfall
You recall the frenetic chaos—people wandering blithely into traffic, while cars with flashing lights and bleating sirens tried to make lurching progress by driving on sidewalks. And everyone staring upward, transfixed.
Even amid the bedlam, one anomalously serene (even festive) detail stood out. Confetti—a jumble of office paperwork and shredded aluminum—drifting lazily toward the ground. Reminiscent of nothing so much as a ticker tape parade, but in reverse. The honorees didn’t know the parade was for them, because they had not yet become heroes and martyrs. Although in just a few moments, they would.
A few minutes later, you stood at the foot of a tower, looking up at an airplane-shaped hole in its side and thinking, “there is no way that building is going to fall down.” To read more…
EYES TO THE SKY
September 6 – 19, 2021
Reach out to Jupiter, Saturn all night
Planet Jupiter shines with startling brilliance above the southeast horizon in evening twilight. The great planet, orbiting fifth out from the Sun in our solar system, could be mistaken for the light of an airplane flying low above the skyline. Jupiter (-2.83 magnitude) is the Evening Star rising in the southeast while dazzling planet Venus (-4.05m), is the Evening Star setting in the west-southwest during twilight. Note that the smaller the number the greater the magnitude of a celestial object. Sunset is, roughly, 7:15pm this week and 7:00pm next week. Twilight begins about half an hour later and, for nightfall, add another hour. To read more…
Exercise in disguise! Join in on the fun featuring easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography while working on your balance, coordination and range of motion. Come prepared for enthusiastic instruction, a little strength training, and a lot of fun. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free Irish Hunger Memorial.
Dr. Rene David Alkalay was born in March 1941 in Zagreb, the capital of the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia). When Dr. Alkalay was just a few weeks old, Croatia became a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and his father and paternal relatives were imprisoned in a concentration camp run by the country’s new Ustaša regime. Later that year, Dr. Alkalay, his mother, and his maternal relatives were imprisoned in other Ustaša-run concentration camps, where they remained for two years. After the camp was liberated, Dr. Alkalay hid in the forest with partisan groups for a year and then was airlifted out of Yugoslavia to a Displaced Persons camp in Italy. He spent four years after the war at a Catholic school in Rome, unaware of his true religious identity. In 1950, Dr. Alkalay and his family emigrated to the United States, where he later became a psychotherapist, nutritionist, and pastoral counselor. Join the Museum for a program exploring Dr. Alkalay’s story of survival in Croatia. $10
1. Proposal to Install Protected Bike Lanes on Centre Street and Lafayette Street between Worth Street and Canal Street, and update on Brooklyn Bridge Bike Path – Presentation by Ed Pincar, Borough Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation; Kimberly Rancourt, Director of Special Projects, NYC Department of Transportation; Jennifer Leung, NYC Department of Transportation; Ted Wright, Director, Bike Unit, NYC Department of Transportation; Shawn Macias, Deputy Director, Bike Unit, NYC Department of Transportation; Patrick Kennedy, Senior Project Manager, Bike Unit, NYC Department of Transportation
2. Additional Electric Transportation Modes from Revel – Discussion
3. Capital and Expense Budget Items for FY 2023 – Discussion
Join Flagship Brewing Company in celebrating all things beer at Fraunces Tavern. Enjoy a can of Samuel Fraunces® Ale, brewed by Flagship, and learn about what makes it so unique Participants will also receive a beer flight to sip as Fraunces Tavern Museum explores the history of ale and its evolution throughout the 18th century.
Authors Jennifer J. Chow, Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, Jennie Englund, and Peter Lerangis discuss their incredible successes writing for middle-grade audiences and how this career choice interacted with their personal lives and families, in an intimate Livestream conversation open to the public. Interactive Q&A with audience participation
China Institute welcomes Confucianism expert Zu-yan Chen, who will introduce Confucius, China’s greatest sage, and the philosophy that has shaped Chinese governance, values, and ideas for thousands of years. Following the lecture, contemporary China expert Zak Dychtwald will join Professor Chen in a conversation about Confucius’ legacy and his relevance in today’s hyper-modern China. Scholar, philosopher, and political sage, Confucius is synonymous with Chinese morality and culture. But how much do most of us actually know about his thinking? How did Confucianism become the underpinning of the Chinese system of education and bureaucracy, and how do we separate the facts from the myths surrounding his ideas? Most importantly, why are we still talking about him after more than 2500 years? In short, why does Confucius still matter today? Free
with its amazing gardens and views of the Hudson River and New York Bay, Wagner Park is the perfect setting to practice your art. Participants are expected to bring their own drawing and painting supplies, including drawing boards and containers of water if they are planning to paint. BPCA will supply drawing paper and watercolor paper only. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free
Namaste! Unwind from the day with outdoor yoga. Immerse yourself in this meditative practice- surrounded by the Hudson’s peaceful aura. Strengthen the body and cultivate awareness in a relaxed environment as your instructor guides you through alignments and poses. All levels are welcome. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: yoga mat, yoga blocks, water, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. Programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free
How will artificial intelligence change our world? Join Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and bestselling author of AI Superpowers, and celebrated novelist Chen Qiufan, author of sci-fi sensation Waste Tide, online for the launch of their new book AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future. The authors will discuss AI’s advances in China and how the technology is poised to burst into our daily lives on an unimaginable scale.
The tall ship Wavertree, the schooner Pioneer, and the tug W.O. Decker are open to the public. Explore Wavertree while she is docked; cruise New York Harbor on W.O. Decker and Pioneer! Wavertree visits are free; Pioneer and Decker prices vary. Check website for times, prices and other details.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Samascott Orchard Orchard fruit, strawberries from Columbia County, New York
Francesa’s Bakery Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, New Jersey
Meredith’s Bakery Baked goods from Ulster County, New York
Riverine Ranch Water Buffalo meat and cheeses from Warren County, New Jersey
1857 Spirits Handcrafted potato vodka from Schoharie County, New York
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted
TODAY IN HISTORY
1901 – President William McKinley dies after being mortally wounded on September 6 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz and is succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
1741 – George Frideric Handel completes his oratorio Messiah.
1752 – The British Empire adopts the Gregorian calendar, skipping eleven days (the previous day was September 2).
1812 – Napoleonic Wars: The French Grande Armée enters Moscow. The Fire of Moscow begins as soon as Russian troops leave the city.
1901 – President William McKinley dies after being mortally wounded on September 6 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz and is succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
1917 – The Russian Empire is formally replaced by the Russian Republic.
1954 – In a top secret nuclear test, a Soviet Tu-4 bomber drops a 40 kiloton atomic weapon just north of Totskoye village.
1958 – The first two German post-war rockets, designed by the German engineer Ernst Mohr, reach the upper atmosphere.
1959 – The Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.
1960 – The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is founded.
1979 – Afghan President Nur Muhammad Taraki is assassinated upon the order of Hafizullah Amin, who becomes the new president.
1982 – President-elect of Lebanon Bachir Gemayel is assassinated.
2001 – Historic National Prayer Service held at Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 attacks. A similar service is held in Canada on Parliament Hill, the largest vigil ever held in the nation’s capital.
2015 – The first observation of gravitational waves is made, announced by the LIGO and Virgo collaborations on February 11 2016.
1388 – Claudius Clavus, Danish geographer and cartographer (d. 1438)
1643 – Jeremiah Dummer, American silversmith (d. 1718)
1804 – John Gould, English ornithologist and illustrator (d. 1881)
1936 – Lucas Samaras, Greek-American painter and photographer
1937 – Renzo Piano, Italian architect and engineer, designed The Shard and The New York Times Building
AD 23 – Drusus Julius Caesar, Roman son of Tiberius (b. 13 BC)
1836 – Aaron Burr, American colonel and politician, 3rd Vice President of the United States (b. 1756)
1851 – James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, short story writer, and historian (b. 1789)
1901 – William McKinley, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 25th President of the United States (b. 1843)