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The BroadsheetDAILY ~ Lower Manhattan’s Local Newsaper ~ 7/28/21 ~ BPCA Announces New Advisory Commission to Consult on Location and Design of Essential Workers’ Monument
BPCA Announces New Advisory Commission to Consult on Location and Design of Monument
BPCA chairman George Tsunis (center) confers with Pause the Saws protest leaders in Rockefeller Park on July 1.
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) announced Wednesday the formation of a Battery Park City Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee, which will formulate recommendations on the design and location of a new memorial in Battery Park City.
This move comes in the wake of a month of controversy, which began on June 24, when Governor Andrew 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 lawns adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial, an alternate site proposed 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. While this will move opening of the Essential Workers Monument beyond Labor Day, which we felt was a significant date, as essential workers are largely union members, there will be an essential worker recognition on Labor Day nonetheless. 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 Tuesday. 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.
Four labor leaders will join the ranks of the Advisory Committee. They are Stu Appelbaum (president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union), Kyle Bragg (president of the 32BJ local of the Service Employees International Union), Jahmila Edwards (associate director of District Council 37), and Gary LaBarbera(president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council and of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York).
Finally, RoAnn Destito, commissioner of Office of General Services (the State agency that handles real estate and construction), will also participate as a member of the Battery Park City Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee.
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 Tuesday evening, 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 previous toll have volunteered to have the Essential Workers Monument located in their districts.)
But locating the memorial in Battery Park City will be contentious for another reason. Governor Cuomo has 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, is likely to curry favor with politically important constituencies as he faces a tough bid for a fourth term in 2022. In each case, Battery Park City appears 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.”
September 11 Survivors May Lose Rights to Compensation After Thursday Registration Cut-Off
There is a drop-dead date approaching for all individuals who may someday wish to file a claim with the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF). Such people are required to register by this Thursday (July 29). This is a simple process, which can be completed in a few minutes, either online or over the telephone. Registering does not waive any legal rights, or commit you to filing a claim in the future. It merely preserves your legal right to file such a claim, if you someday choose to do so.
Those who must register by July 29 fall into two categories:
Anybody who was certified by the World Trade Center Health Program for a September 11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019 must sign up.
Anyone planning to file a claim for an individual whom they believe died of a September 11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019 must also register.
Wagner Park, with its amazing gardens and views of the Hudson River and New York Bay, 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. Battery Park City Authority
Get moving with a series of classes aimed to help you build strength, relax, and unwind. All cardio classes are 45 minutes long, with a focus on high-intensity rhythmic cardio. Classes also feature sprint intervals, sculpting, and a stretch cool down. 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. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance.
Shot during the last days of the Civil War in China’s transition to socialism, Crows and Sparrows is one of the best crafted films of the 1940s. But its director, Zheng Junli, navigated some treacherous political waters to get it made. The original script was banned by the Nationalist government, presumably because of its unflattering depiction of corruption, inflation, and social inequity. Then after the Communists invaded, the filmmaker tacked on a politically acceptable ending. The film captures the frenzy of change through several households in a traditional shikumen Shanghai building. The tenants, or “sparrows,” share their dreams and uncertainties of the future while facing the threat of eviction by the “crows,” the landlord couple preparing to flee Communist rule. One of the finest examples of critical realism spiced up with a dose of slapstick comedy, Crows and Sparrows features some of China’s most celebrated stars. Virtual lecture about the film today. A link to view each film online is also available for viewing at home. Free
The Battery Park City Authority’s highly regarded summer music festival, River & Blues, which has presented blues, folk, and roots music in Wagner Park for 20 years, presents Rev Sekou and the Freedom Fighters (July 29), who will perform their Delta Blues-infused anthems for social justice.
Thursday evening’s show begins at 6pm, with DJ Susan Z. Anthony spinning an eclectic mix that sets the stage for the performance that follows. Admission is free.
Who Will Be Short Changed?
Local Leader Thinks Locally, Acts Nationally
New York is losing its voice, on the installment plan. From a peak of 45 seats in the House of Representatives (in the two decades preceding 1953), the Empire State has been gradually whittled down to 27 members of Congress.
In a reverse of the state motto of “Excelsior” (meaning “ever upward”), New York lost two seats each after each census in 1950, 1960, 1970, 2000, and 2010—plus five seats after 1980 and three seats after 1990. And now, after coming up 89 residents short in the 2020 census (in spite of a population that grew by almost five percent in the last decade), New York is slated to lose one more seat. But which one?
Hint: When the Department of Education Gives Its Word
Community leaders and education advocates are fuming over an apparent about-face by the City’s Department of Education (DOE), which has backed away from a 2016 promise about the design of the new public elementary school on Trinity Place, in the Financial District (slated to open in September, 2022).
As Tricia Joyce, chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) explained at the Board’s June 22 meeting, “the School Construction Authority and the DOE gave a presentation to Community Education Council that included the design of the new school, and it showed gymnatorium.”
Construction Milestones and Hiring Mark Progress Toward Planned Arts Venue at World Trade Center
Lower Manhattan is two steps closer to the 2023 debut of its next great amenity. The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, at the World Trade Center, topped off the 138-foot structure in June, and the organization has hired a Director of Civic Alliances, who will cultivate relationships with community-based organizations, public housing residents, community boards, immigrant groups, cultural institutions and elected officials.
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
Lower Manhattan residents once again have access to the ever-popular weekend summer ferry to Red Hook.
Provided by NY Waterway, the free service is nominally about providing access to Ikea, but also offers the bonus of a slew of waterfront restaurants and parks within walking distance of the furniture store.
The service departs from two Downtown locations (Pier 11/Wall Street and the Battery Park City ferry terminal) starting at 11:00 am.
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
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.
Tribeca Sailing offers two-hour private sailing charters of the Harbor, setting sail five times each day, seven days a week. Captain David Caporale, the owner and captain of Tribeca Sailing and a Lower Manhattan resident, also offers private sailing charters for a maximum of six passengers, for those having a staycation, or celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. His sailboat, Tara, is a 1964 custom Hinckley Pilot 35. Hinckleys are noted as a Rolls Royce of sailboats, based on their solid construction, the artistry of the wood trim, and other design features. For more information or to book a sail, contact David Caporale 917-593-2281 or David@Tribecasailing.com
TODAY IN HISTORY
Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending Staricase’
1540 – Thomas Cromwell is executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day.
1854 – USS Constellation (1854), the last all-sail warship built by the United States Navy and now a museum ship in Baltimore Harbor, is commissioned.
1866 – At the age of 18, Vinnie Ream becomes the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the United States government for a statue (of Abraham Lincoln).
1896 – The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated.
1915 – The United States begins a 19-year occupation of Haiti
1917 – The Silent Parade takes place in New York City, in protest against murders, lynchings, and other violence directed towards African Americans.
1932 – President Herbert Hoover orders the United States Army to forcibly evict the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, D.C.
1938 – Hawaii Clipper disappears between Guam and Manila as the first loss of an airliner in trans-Pacific China Clipper service.
1945 – A U.S. Army B-25 bomber crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building killing 14 and injuring 26.
1965 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces his order to increase the number of United States troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.
1996 – The remains of a prehistoric man are discovered near Kennewick, Washington. Such remains will be known as the Kennewick Man.
2002 – Nine coal miners trapped in the flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, are rescued after 77 hours underground.
2018 – Australian Wendy Tuck becomes the first woman skipper to win the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
Marcel Duchamp photographed by Man Ray
1635 – Robert Hooke, English physicist and chemist (d. 1703)
1804 – Ludwig Feuerbach, German anthropologist and philosopher (d. 1872)
1866 – Beatrix Potter, English children’s book writer and illustrator (d. 1943)
1887 – Marcel Duchamp, French-American painter and sculptor (d. 1968)
1929 – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, American journalist and socialite, 37th First Lady of the United States (d. 1994)
450 – Theodosius II, Roman emperor (b. 401)
1655 – Cyrano de Bergerac, French poet and playwright (b. 1619)