Elected Officials Voice Opposition to Cuomo Monument Plan in Advance of Rally Today
The rendering above shows one possible location for Governor Cuomo’s planned Essential Workers Monument, on Esplanade Plaza, which would have the effect of destroying the volleyball court that is often described as, “the town square of Battery Park City.” The rendering below right illustrates the second location being considered for the Monument, on the rectangular lawns between the Irish Hunger Memorial and 300 Vesey Street. This site, adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial, has aroused criticism for detracting from the existing monument to the Great Famine.
Opposition continues to intensify against a plan by Governor Andrew Cuomo to create in Battery Park City a monument to essential workers who served during the COVID-19 pandemic, with numerous leaders calling the proposal ill advised and rushed.
On Thursday, Congressman Jerry Nadler posted a comment online saying that, “desecrating the Irish Hunger Memorial is a bad idea. Tearing up a heavily used volleyball court is a bad idea. Paving a park is a bad idea.”
These were references to the three iterations of the Governor’s plan thus far, which originally sought to locate the monument in Rockefeller Park, leading to massive protests from residents. When the Governor then directed the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) to find a new site within the community, that agency proposed either the volleyball court on Esplanade Plaza (overlooking North Cove Marina) or the lawns adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial (near Vesey Street and North End Avenue). All three versions of this plan call for the Monument to be designed, constructed, and opened by Labor Day, in less than eight weeks.
Mr. Nadler continued, “we need a public, thoughtful process to design a monument that reflects the value of our brave essential workers.”
Mr. Nadler will lead a rally today (Monday, July 12), at the site of the Irish Hunger Memorial, to call upon the Governor and the BPCA, “to immediately halt its efforts to build a COVID-19 Essential Workers Monument until local stakeholders and residents have been afforded an opportunity to engage in planning and siting discussions.” In a statement, Mr. Nadler noted that, “the memorial, first announced in February, has proceeded without any community input, resulting in proposals that have sparked widespread opposition among Battery Park City residents.” Among the elected officials slated to attend (in addition to Mr. Nadler) are Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assembly member Yuh-line Niou.
Mr. Nadler’s reflections were followed by an observation from City Council member Daniel Dromm, who posted, “putting [the] Essential Workers Memorial next to [the] Irish Hunger Memorial is a bad idea. Both deserve dignity & respect & this proposed site doesn’t accomplish that. Maybe the Essential Workers Memorial should be put in my district near Elmhurst Hospital, the epicenter of the epicenter.” Mr. Dromm represents the Queens neighborhood that suffered some of the highest infection rates and highest death rates from COVID-19 of any community in the United States.
This was echoed by City Council member Robert Holden, who represents an adjacent (and similarly affected) district in Queens, when he posted that, “our essential workers deserve a lasting monument to their dedication that is well planned and well placed, not one that is rushed and might take away from another nearby memorial. This needs to be planned with input and engagement from the community.”
Separately, the newly formed Battery Park City Neighborhood Association, which counts among its members many of the protestors who camped out in Rockefeller Park to prevent bulldozers from beginning demolition work, issued a statement saying, “many voices in our community have expressed a preference that the State NOT build the monument within Battery Park City since becoming aware of the project on June 28. While the Association acknowledges and appreciates that the monument was moved from Rockefeller Park, we continue to believe that more time and consideration should be given to the Essential Workers monument regarding a suitable design and location.”
This follows a resolution enacted last week by the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), which called upon Governor Cuomo and the BPCA to modify their plans so that the Essential Workers Monument be slated for completion and opening on Labor Day, 2022 (rather than this year), and urging them to consider a temporary art installation for completion by this year’s Labor Day. The resolution also called for a robust and transparent approach to community engagement during the intervening 12 months, while additionally demanding a more careful and deliberative design process. The resolution further proposed that communities other than Battery Park City be considered for the permanent home of the Essential Workers Monument, while noting that if the project is to be built here, it should not include an eternal flame, as the Governor intends. Finally, the resolution did not endorse either of the proposed locations now under consideration by the BPCA, but insisted that the Authority commit to a ban on building any additional memorials within the community in the future.
This resolution followed a letter sent to Governor Cuomo by a coalition of elected officials, urging him to “halt construction, and undertake a transparent process with input from the community in which the monument is to be sited, as well as further discussion among frontline workers and impacted communities about what they believe would truly honor the sacrifices they have made.”
Congressman Nadler and State Senator Brian Kavanagh, along with State Assembly members Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, added, “we are deeply concerned that the proposed monument has been designed and placed without adequate input from frontline essential workers or the Battery Park City community—and apparently without formal consideration by the board of the Battery Park City Authority, the public entity that manages the property on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
The elected officials’ letter concluded, “we also believe that serious consideration should be given to the question of whether siting this monument here makes sense, given that Battery Park City was not one of the neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic. However, even if the decision is to proceed with siting the monument in Battery Park City, we believe there could be constructive conversations about the specific design and location, with the goal of mitigating the impact upon open green spaces and other essential elements of scarce parkland.”
EYES TO THE SKY
July 12 – 25, 2021
A rare event – Venus and Mars snuggle at dusk today and tomorrow
Don’t miss the gorgeous evening tableau from July 12 to 14, 2021. The slim lunar crescent will guide your eye to the 2 close-knit planets, Venus and Mars. Published with permission EarthSky.org
This evening and tomorrow, the 12th and 13th, brilliant planet Venus and fainter planet Mars appear low in the west-northwestern sky about 45 minutes after sunset. At less than half a degree of separation on both evenings, such proximity of the two planets will not be seen again until 2034. In deepening twilight, a graceful crescent moon, suspended above the pair, expands the aura of the event.
At the beginning of the week, sunset is at 8:27pm; twilight gathers half an hour later. By 9:10pm, planet Venus – appropriately named The Evening (and Morning) Star, for surpassing the radiance of all true stars in Earth’s skies – catches the eye as a steady, solitary point of light below the moon, close above the west-northwest horizon. Diminutive Mars comes into view as the sky darkens: to the left of Venus on the 12th and below the Evening Star on the 13th. At first glance, the planets may seem indistinguishable on account of their very close approach and Mars’ lesser magnitude in the presence of Venus’ overpowering light. In a clear, dark sky, the conjunction is visible with the naked eye. Binoculars add interest to the experience.
Prepare to arrive at a location with an unobstructed view to the west-northwest horizon. At a horizon view, unobstructed by hills or buildings, Mars and Venus set within minutes of 10pm, which translates to around 9:30pm at most locations.
Sun with inner planets: Mercury the smallest, followed by Venus, slightly smaller than Earth.
Outer planet Mars, about half Earth’s size. Image fragment edited from NASA Lunar and Planetary Institute artwork.
Linger with the planets as they drift in tandem toward the skyline. Venus – the third brightest celestial object in Earth’s sky after the Sun and moon – shines with a large enough disc to observe while setting, like the Sun and moon. Even between buildings, observing the movement of Venus setting into the skyline is unforgettable.
by Judy Isacoff
To: George Tsunis, Chair, Battery Park City Authority
cc The Broadsheet
We write on behalf of the over 3,000 residents of Gateway Plaza regarding the siting of the proposed Essential Workers Monument.
First, we want to thank you for listening to the BPC residents’ concerns regarding the original Rockefeller Park site, and shifting the proposed site out of Rockefeller Park. We also thank you for your general pledge to engage with BPC residents regarding BPC land use issues going forward.
We won’t add to comments that we know you’ve received regarding the appropriateness of completing a Monument on a short timeframe and on the appropriateness more generally of adding yet another memorial to BPC. We are in general agreement with comments made by CB1 and the northern BPC residents association on those subjects.
We wish to focus our comments on one of the two alternative sites that you announced last week: the Esplanade Plaza. In many ways, Esplanade Plaza is the southern BPC analog to the Rockefeller Park site that you quite correctly eliminated two weeks ago. We urge you to reject Esplanade Plaza as a potential Monument site.
Esplanade Plaza is the public square of BPC. It is at once recreational, social and community-building. There is no other site like it in BPC. In the words of BPCA’s own website, “Esplanade Plaza features plantings, seating, volleyball court, with sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty and lower New York Harbor. Often a place of local gathering, the plaza also plays host to numerous community dances performed as part of BPCA’s free outdoor programming.”
Although often referred to in short-hand as “the volleyball court,” Esplanade Plaza is much more than that, and finding another location for a volleyball court somewhere in BPC would not replace what would be lost if Esplanade Plaza were chosen as a Monument site.
Esplanade Plaza is a gathering spot for residents, office workers and visitors alike. Examples of popular BPC Parks-sponsored events held there include folk and swing dancing, tai chi, and concerts. Community groups and NYC non-profit groups use the space from May into October for events such as charity run-walk events, boating-related events, and the BPC Dogs Halloween costume parade and costume judging, It has been the home for many years of the BPC Block Party, which will resume again in 2022, after the pandemic. In winter, the Plaza is one of the largest snow-play-areas in Lower Manhattan when most of the lawns in BPC are closed.
Even the volleyball use is not just volleyball. It is an occasion for residents, office workers and visitors to come together in their enjoyment of the welcoming spirit of BPC and to savor the magnificent waterfront views while having fun with a sport that can be enjoyed simultaneously by people having a wide range of skill levels and mix of ages.
Volleyball is not the only play that takes place in Esplanade Plaza. The Plaza is overlooked by the Kowsky Plaza children’s playground, and children’s play often spills out to Esplanade Plaza. Children use Esplanade Plaza for games of catch, tag and just to run around; many BPC children learned to ride their bikes there.
An Esplanade Plaza site for the Monument would also entail significant construction disruption issues. As you know, the Plaza itself has a history of subsidence and sink holes that would likely be worsened by a project that would entail tearing up the existing Plaza and installation of 19 planter containers sufficient to hold large maple trees. Running a gas line to support an eternal flame would present health, safety and environmental issues that would need resolution. Completing such a project by Labor Day would likely require disruptive day-and-night construction for the remaining days of summer, right next to the largest residential complex in Lower Manhattan.
Finally, Esplanade Plaza is not a space that is conducive to solemn contemplation typical of memorial usage. The adjacent play area will mean the Monument would be in nearly constant earshot of loud children’s play and the nearby K-9 Sirius Dog Park. To the north, the active North Cove Marina casts a festive atmosphere for six months a year over Esplanade Plaza. The area is heavily trafficked by pedestrians and bike riders year round. To the extent that having one memorial next to another detracts from each, Esplanade Plaza would suffer from this problem, as it is nearly adjacent to the Police Memorial.
In closing, we thank you again for your decision to eliminate Rockefeller Park as a potential Essential Work Monument site. We urge you to do the same for Esplanade Plaza. The Plaza is a place of joy; please don’t convert it to a place of sadness and mourning.
Rosalie Joseph Honey Berk Pat Gray
Robin Forst Sarah Cassell Howard Grossman
Jeff Galloway Audrey Comisky Steve Kessler
Karelene Wiese Denise Ector
Bruce Katz Larry Emert
Board of Directors of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association
To the editor,
Love reading the Broadsheet. As a frequent visitor to NYC and Lower Manhattan, this publication is a must-read.
To the editor,
Your reporting on this issue and the community’s engagement including the (NYPD) First Precinct give me hope for the future.
To the editor,
Much thanks to Governor Como and Battery Park City Authority Chairman Tsunis for their due diligence in protecting the Children’s Grove in Rockefeller Park.
With the ebbing of the pandemic crisis, it’s time to build back our community –– every community –– better. Here’s a list of converging shadows over our well-being on the southwestern tip of Manhattan: acknowledging and changing the 2069 property forfeiture and valuation reset terms for condo owners; coordinating a unified approach to addressing and financing Local Law 97 energy resiliency; designing for economical coastal resiliency; limiting the bond burden of the Battery Park City Authority; providing for expanded housing availability and affordability; building a new and diversified economy for Downtown and the country.
We’ve now seen how our state government, Battery Park City Authority, our civic leaders and every member of our community can come together to build a better and necessary future. The only way forward is to come together!
To the editor,
You wrote that “On Thursday, July 1, BPCA chairman George Tsunis ventured into the park to announce that the location of the planned monument would be changed. ‘It’s going to be a new site,’ Mr. Tsunis said. ‘This site is off the table.’ He continued, ‘we really did not understand the proximity and how many parents and children used this area. One mom explained, ‘I take out a picnic blanket and play with my kids here.’ That resonates. I’m a father.’
He added that the new location would be, ‘nowhere near where kids play, and not involve not taking down or replanting trees, and should be in a commercial area.'” The BPCA Chairman’s quoted statement is nothing less than damning. And this, for the information of our governor and the BPCA, is what happens when the people sitting on the BPCA are not required to live in BPC or have any personal or professional ties to the neighborhood. How can they possibly know —or care—what is important to those of us who live, work in and treasure this neighborhood and its parks and other amenities?
The people sitting on the BPCA need to have some “skin in the game” in the form of a residency requirement for a place on that authority or we will just continue to have our rights and concerns (ground rent, PILOT, spiraling property and rental costs, lack of affordable housing for seniors, and on and on and on…) overrun by Albany and Governor Cuomo’s donor class cronies. Time to stand up and take back our rights and power.
To the editor,
Just read the news article on the location of the essential workers monument.
Def not the volleyball court- it’s used by kids to ride their bikes and play. It’s where our kids Learnt to ride, roller skate etc. and Tai chi and dance in the summer on summer stage.
Especially in the pandemic, open space that is Not under control of Developers is at an all time low in NYC. During the pandemic we saw many open public spaces lost because developers decided on its fate. Kids in the city were bereft of open space at a time that it was most needed. The circle (pump house) park is an example. After renovation it’s posted with signs for no ball play etc….it’s freely used for Brookfield events, but not for open public use.
If anything as a dedication to essential workers, the governor should dedicate “NO more Memorials in BPC” dedication that stands for all times to come. And install a plaque along the waterfront at a few places to commemorate it.
Else it’s just an empty construction project that the Governor is using to reward his builder/construction buddies at the cost of real quality of life in BPC.
CB1 Weighs In on Plans for Essential Workers Monument in Battery Park City
During a five-hour meeting of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee on Wednesday evening, at which more than 100 members of the Downtown community spoke, a team from the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) presented revised plans for the controversial proposed Essential Workers Monument.
This meeting followed two weeks of protest and dialog—during which residents opposed to the original version of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan (which would have located the memorial in Rockefeller Park) camped out in tents for four nights—that have led the Authority to propose locating the shrine elsewhere within the community.
The Greenmarket at Oculus Plaza, City Hall Greenmarket,
and Staten Island Ferry Greenmarket are temporarily closed.
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
‘This Project Will Forever Be a Symbol of Failure’
Community Leaders React to Cuomo Plan for Yet Another Monument in Battery Park City
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he plans to erect in Battery Park City an Essential Workers Monument to those who served during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In the beginning of the pandemic, when people were told to stay home, essential workers went into work day after day, making sure their fellow New Yorkers were safe, fed and cared for,” Mr. Cuomo said.
The Governor attributed the decision to locate this monument in Battery Park City to his Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee, which was announced in April. This panel consisted of 23 union presidents, and not a single resident of Battery Park City. There is no record of this Committee having held any public meetings, or having solicited any advice or feedback from the community. To read more…
Monday July 12
Community Board 1 Land Use, Zoning & Economic Development Committee
Manhattan Borough President’s Office 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor Southside
Entrance on the Northside of building
Community Board members, applicants and public members are required to attend in person.
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.
God, Guns, Grits, and More in Lower Manhattan
Analysis and Opinion: A Personal View from a Downtown Resident
Some years ago, I was wandering the shelves of Barnes and Noble while my daughter was picking out her latest Archie comic and I stumbled across “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” by then soon-to-be presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Basically, and I oversimplify shockingly little, his argument is that there was the real America, like the Arkansas city he hailed from, and there are places like New York. And you could tell them apart because the real America had God, guns, grits, and gravy—and New York didn’t.
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.
The Burr–Hamilton duel at Weehawken, New Jersey, between Aaron Burr, the Vice President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the first and former Secretary of the Treasury, on July 11
1493 – Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the best-documented early printed books, is published.
1543 – King Henry VIII of England marries his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court Palace.
1789 – In response to the dismissal of the French finance minister Jacques Necker, the radical journalist Camille Desmoulins gives a speech which results in the storming of the Bastille two days later.
1812 – The American Army of the Northwest briefly occupies the Upper Canadian settlement at what is now at Windsor, Ontario.
1917 – The Bisbee Deportation occurs as vigilantes kidnap and deport nearly 1,300 striking miners and others from Bisbee, Arizona.
1948 – Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion orders the expulsion of Palestinians from the towns of Lod and Ramala.
1962 – The Rolling Stones perform for the first time at London’s Marquee Club.
1967 – Riots begin in Newark, New Jersey.
1973 – A fire destroys the entire sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center of the United States.
2007 – U.S. Army Apache helicopters engage in airstrikes against armed insurgents in Baghdad, Iraq, where civilians are killed; footage from the cockpit is later leaked to the Internet.
100 BC – Julius Caesar, Roman politician and general (d. 44 BC)
1712 – Sir Francis Bernard, 1st Baronet, Colonial governor of New Jersey and Massachusetts Bay (d. 1779)
1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, and philosopher (d. 1862)
1854 – George Eastman, American businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (d. 1933)
1884 – Louis B. Mayer, Russian-born American film producer, co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (d. 1957)
1884 – Amedeo Modigliani, Italian painter and sculptor (d. 1920)
1895 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect and engineer, designed the Montreal Biosphere (d. 1983)
1917 – Andrew Wyeth, American artist (d. 2009)
1934 – Van Cliburn, American pianist and composer (d. 2013)
1536 – Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch priest and philosopher (b. 1466)
1804 – Alexander Hamilton, American general, economist, and politician, first United States Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1755)
1910 – Charles Rolls, English engineer and businessman, co-founded Rolls-Royce Limited (b. 1887)
1929 – Robert Henri, American painter and educator (b. 1865)