BPCA Delays Controversial Plan for Another New Monument
Congressman Jerry Nadler at the podium yesterday while Community Board 1 chair Tammy Meltzer and State Senator Brian Kavanagh look on.
A Monday afternoon rally at the Irish Hunger Memorial, originally planned as a protest meeting, turned into a victory celebration after the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) announced that it was putting on hold a controversial plan by Governor Andrew Cuomo to build an Essential Workers Monument within the community.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, who led the event, began by saying, “earlier today, the BPCA reversed course,” which caused the assembled crowd to erupt in cheers. “They announced that they will begin a true community engagement process to determine the location and design of a monument to essential workers. The process of determining how we as a people will honor those who matter most to us is one that takes thoughtful reflection.”
Mr. Nadler continued, “I am grateful that BPCA chairman George Tsunis and Governor Cuomo have been willing to hear the residents about how a truly meaningful monument is one that is responsive to and reflective of its environment.”
“We don’t have a specific location for the monument at the moment, nor should we,” he added. “Given time our community leaders and essential workers will guide us to the right place. Instead, we have unity and purpose—to be able to honor our essential workers with a monument full of meaning and that reflects the enormous gratitude of our community.”
Hours before the rally was slated to begin, Mr. Tsunis issued a statement, saying, “over the past two weeks we have heard two things clearly and consistently: the love that our community harbors for its parks and public spaces, and its desire to honor the enduring efforts of essential workers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this active and unprecedented feedback loop, we have also heard the community’s concerns about the proposed Essential Workers Monument, listened to those concerns, and incorporated that feedback into the decision making process with the Governor’s Office, essential workers, and other stakeholders.”
Mr. Tsunis added, “to continue incorporating public feedback into the process, 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 BPC residents feel strongly and potential litigation by residents would further extend the process.”
Above: Community Board 1 chair Tammy Meltzer speaks. Behind her from left to right are BPCA president BJ Jones, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and incoming City Council representative Christopher Marte. Below: BPC resident Eric Gyasi.
A BPCA source added that no work will begin on the Essential Workers Monument until the committee completes its work, and that the location within Battery Park City has not been finalized.
This about-face largely complies with a resolution enacted by the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 on July 6, 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.
CB1’s Battery Park City Committee chair, Justine Cuccia, noted that the Governor’s plan for opening the Essential Workers Monument on Labor Day (which falls five days before the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001), “will be disruptive and disrespectful, and will dilute the impact, the importance of both the new Monument, and the September 11 observances.”
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. There is thus far no indication that the Governor or the Authority (which Mr. Cuomo controls) are considering adherence to a separate part of the CB1 resolution, which proposed that communities other than Battery Park City be considered for the permanent home of the Essential Workers Monument.
At Monday’s rally, Mr. Nadler added, “I am grateful to the Battery Park City residents who recognized the flaws in the original plan, and then put their bodies on the line—literally laying down in front of bulldozers to protect their community.” This was a reference to the four-day, round-the-clock protest on Rockefeller Park (the original planned site of the Monument), during which local parents and children camped out in tents for four nights, through blistering heat and torrential rains, to prevent demolition work from beginning.
Mr. Nadler concluded his remarks with the exhortation, “for today, at least, I say, ‘victory!’”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, “you have the ability as a community, to say, ‘we want to be heard.’”
State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, “this is a community that has many monuments to extraordinary and terrible times, including the Irish Hunger Memorial,” a lawn alongside which became one of the BPCA’s alternate locations for the Essential Workers Monument, after protestors persuaded the agency to abandon the plan for Rockefeller Park. “It is not easy to launch this great vision and say, ‘we’re going to get it done by Labor Day,’ and then step back and reconsider.”
Mr. Kavanagh added, “it’s a testament to this community coming together and saying, ‘not so fast, not so precipitously, let’s have a genuine, deliberate process.’ I am thankful to George Tsunis for leading this step back that the State has taken.”
CB1 chair Tammy Meltzer said, “thanks to the children who pitched tents in front of backhoes so they couldn’t take out trees. And thanks to all of the residents who came out to say, ‘we need our open space and this was a closed process that shouldn’t be.’ Public memorials and monuments deserve a public process that uplifts the voices of neighbors, workers, designers, and visitors.”
Above: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Below: State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou began her remarks by raising her arms and exclaiming, “you did this!” — leading to another eruption of cheers and applause. She continued, “right now, we have a conversation that is ongoing. We are hearing an ongoing commitment for future transparency and community involvement with every single thing that has to do with land use in Battery Park City. This is something we have been fighting for for a very long time and is desperately needed.”
Eric Gyasi, a Battery Park City resident and one of the leaders of protestors who banded together under the social-media banner of “Pause the Saws,” and is now a one of the founders of the newly formed Battery Park City Neighborhood Association, said, “we express our gratitude to Governor Cuomo and the BPCA for pausing construction of the Essential Workers Monument. We applaud the decision and willingness to listen to widespread and passionate community feedback regarding the importance of all types of open space. I highlight this community victory.”
He continued, “I thank the youngest among us, the children, who circled their arms around trees, artistically depicted what was at stake, and happily showed the positive impact that open space has in real life.”
Mr. Gyasi added that, “Emerson once said, ‘men talk as if victory were something fortunate. Work is victory.’ Our community was made strong, was bonded through local organizations, businesses, and our Community Board. Our odds were long and our time was short. But in 15 days, marked by 100-degree weather, mosquito swarms, and torrential downpours, we displayed the best of ‘small-d’ democracy, as our collective voice achieved today’s community victory.”
Above: incoming City Council representative Christopher Marte. Below: Robin Forst, a member of the board of the Gateway Plaza Tenants’ Association.
Robin Forst, a member of the board of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association, said, “on behalf of the 3,000 people who live in Gateway, we are gratified by the decision to delay construction of the Memorial to ensure greater participation by many, many stakeholders. We look forward to actively engaging in the process and hope that Governor Cuomo and the BPCA will be willing to cast a wider net, both in terms of design and location. We are hopeful that once again our entire community will come together with shared purpose and goals.”
Christopher Marte, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee to fill the City Council seat representing Lower Manhattan (now held by the term-limited Margaret Chin), said, “you could have stopped right after you won the Rockefeller Park pausing of the saws. You could have stopped when they decided to use this location,” meaning the lawns beside the Irish Hunger Memorial, “for the next Memorial site. But you stood up and said, ‘Governor, you will not pit community backyards against memorials.’ You said, ‘you will not pit memorials to essential workers against the Irish Hunger Memorial.’ You said, ‘we’re not going to pit northern Battery Park City residents against southern Battery Park City residents.’ You said, ‘we are here united as a community to have a voice, and what happens in our community needs our input.’”
Mr. Marte added, “I’m excited about this advisory committee, not just to decide where the next monument will be, but more importantly about our ground lease and representation on the BPCA board for decades to come.” This was a reference to a series of other controversial issues that have plagued the relationship between the BPCA and the community for years.
‘A Bad Idea’
Elected Officials Voice Opposition to Cuomo Monument Plan in Advance of Rally Today
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.”
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.
Board of Directors of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association
Rosalie Joseph, Honey Berk, Pat Gray, Robin Forst, Sarah Cassell, Howard Grossman, Jeff Galloway, Audrey Comisky, Steve Kessler, Karlene Wiese, Denise Ector, Bruce Katz, Larry Emert
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…
Perhaps the most notorious war criminal of all time, Josef Mengele was the embodiment of bloodless efficiency and passionate devotion to Nazism. His story is the subject of Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death, a definitive new biography by former Museum Director David G. Marwell, who was tasked with uncovering Mengele’s fate while he worked at the U.S. Justice Department in the 1980s. Marwell’s book describes Mengele’s training and early promise as a scientist; his wartime service in combat and at Auschwitz; and his postwar refuge in Germany and South America. It chronicles the international search for Mengele in 1985 that ended in a cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the dogged forensic investigation that eventually confirmed his death. Join the Museum for a program exploring Mengele’s story. Marwell will be in conversation with Andrew Nagorski, an award-winning journalist and author of The Nazi Hunters and 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War. $10
Three experts on two classics — and how early 20th century film helped drive a national dialogue. To celebrate the opening of the new, expanded China Institute, this program will explore the beginnings of Chinese cinema as the country faced social and political turmoil and war. Weaving elements from Hollywood, Soviet cinema, and traditional art, Chinese filmmakers sought to be part of the intense dialogue about the future of their nation. Three top Chinese film experts kick off our summer-long series with a wide-ranging discussion of two great films, The Great Road, 大路 (1935, Mandarin, with English subtitles) and Laborer’s Love, 劳工之爱情, (1922, silent film. Written Mandarin and English inter titles). In person screening at China Institute today, with a virtual lecture about the film tomorrow. A link to view each film online is also available for viewing at home. Free
Community Board 1 Youth & Education Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room
1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
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.
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.
A drawing from The Illustrated London News showing armed rioters clashing with Union Army soldiers in New York City.
587 BC – Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem ends following the destruction of Solomon’s Temple.
1787 – The Continental Congress enacts the Northwest Ordinance establishing governing rules for the Northwest Territory. It also establishes procedures for the admission of new states and limits the expansion of slavery.
1793 – Journalist and French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a member of the opposing political faction.
1814 – The Carabinieri, the national gendarmerie of Italy, is established.
1863 – New York City draft riots: In New York City, opponents of conscription begin three days of rioting which will be later regarded as the worst in United States history.
1919 – The British airship R34 lands in Norfolk, England, completing the first airship return journey across the Atlantic in 182 hours of flight.
1956 – The Dartmouth workshop is the first conference on artificial intelligence.
1973 – Watergate scandal: Alexander Butterfield reveals the existence of a secret Oval Office taping system to investigators for the Senate Watergate Committee.
1977 – New York City Blackout: Amidst a period of financial and social turmoil experiences an electrical blackout lasting nearly 24 hours that leads to widespread fires and looting.
1863 – Margaret Murray, British archaeologist, anthropologist, historian, and folklorist (d. 1963)
1864 – John Jacob Astor IV, American colonel and businessman (d. 1912)
1924 – Johnny Gilbert, American game show host and announcer
1942 – Harrison Ford, American actor and producer
1942 – Roger McGuinn, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1957 – Cameron Crowe, American director, producer, and screenwriter
982 – Pandulf II, Lombard prince
1399 – Jadwiga, queen of Poland (b. 1373/4)
1402 – Jianwen, Chinese emperor (b. 1377)
1893 – Young Man Afraid of His Horses, American tribal chief (b. 1836)
1946 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (b. 1864)
2010 – George Steinbrenner, American businessman (b. 1930)