Protestors Continue to Block Destruction of Rockefeller Park, as BPCA Announces Pause
The occupation of Rockefeller Park lawn by residents protesting plans to bulldoze the space, in order to make way for a planned monument, continued for a third consecutive night on Wednesday. Below: One of the protest’s leaders, resident Pamit Surana, confers with BPCA spokesman Nick Sbordone.
Beneath a pelting rain on Wednesday evening, local residents huddled in tents and camped out in Rockefeller Park for the third consecutive night, to protest plans to cut down trees and pave over a large section of the beloved green space, so that Governor Andrew Cuomo can create a monument to essential workers who served during the pandemic.
Late in the afternoon, Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) chairman George Tsunis issued a statement, saying, “over the next week the Authority will continue to engage with our neighbors, representatives of essential workers and the Governor’s office to discuss the location of the monument in Battery Park City to ensure it is one that’s optimal for the entire community. Essential workers have dedicated their time, energy and lives to helping New York get through the pandemic, and it is an honor to support and memorialize them with a monument that’s as loved and respected as they are.” A BPCA source added that, planned construction of the planned Monument will be paused through the coming holiday weekend.
Shortly after Mr. Tsunis issued his statement, BPCA spokesman Nick Sbordone visited the site of the protest. Asked whether the Authority was offering a binding commitment not to begin demolition or construction, and not to attempt to enclose the site with a fence, through Monday, July 5, he answered, “yes.” Several hours later, Mr. Tsunis was in direct touch with one of the protest leaders, offering to convene a meeting to discuss this matter further, on either Thursday or Friday. As night fell over Rockefeller Park, several of the protest leaders were conferring about scheduling this session.
As rain began to fall around 9:30 pm on Wednesday, Pamit Surana, a resident of Battery Park City’s north neighborhood and one of the leaders of the protest group camped out on the lawn, observed, “this is one more day that those trees have not been cut down, one more day that the park has not been erased, and one more day that a group of neighbors and friends have banded together to demand that government listen to our voices. Each of these days is a victory.”
Separately, a coalition of elected officials wrote to Governor Cuomo, 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 Jerry 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 continued, “Rockefeller Park contains some of the only open green space in Lower Manhattan, and it has been a vital resource for residents in the past year and a half. The Circle of Heroes would be the third monument sited in the park in as many years, each undertaken without public input despite chipping away at the sparse recreational space accessible to the community.” (This was a reference to Governor Cuomo’s decisions in 2019 and 2020, respectively, to create in Battery Park City memorials Mother Cabrini and to the suffering of the island of Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria.)
The Mother Cabrini Memorial near South Cove
The Hurricane Maria Memorial on Chambers Street and River Terrace
The letter also noted that, “this monument alone would require the destruction of numerous trees as well as 29,000 square feet of open green space. The announcement of the Circle of Heroes on June 23rd and the expedited construction timeline came as a shock to the community, as there had previously been only cursory mention of locating the memorial in Battery Park City, without any details regarding the scale or specific location of the project. In fact, we are only able to ask that construction be halted before it begins because of the actions of protesters that have delayed the project’s groundbreaking.”
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. Locating a monument in Rockefeller Park will render it largely inaccessible to many of the workers whom it seeks to honor, and will waste the opportunity to bring visitors and other resources to a neighborhood that more heavily bore the toll of COVID-19. 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.”
In a third development, while protestors were camped out in Rockefeller Park on Tuesday night, Governor Cuomo was hosting a fundraising gala at Rockefeller Center, in Midtown. At least six labor leaders who were part of his 23-members Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee (a panel comprised entirely of influential union chiefs, sure to be crucial in the Governor’s expected campaign for a fourth term next year) each paid $10,000 from their member’s dues to attend this event, which netted Mr. Cuomo more than $1 million.
This was the first campaign fundraiser for Mr. Cuomo since the launch of multiple official probes into allegations that he sexually harassed several female aides. As has been his custom at public appearances for many months, Mr. Cuomo spoke, but took no questions. Among the issues that might have been raised by the labor leaders at his banquet, had they been allowed to ask, was why the employees of the multiple contracting firms that showed up in Rockefeller Park on Monday morning to begin cutting down trees and tearing up the lawn (before they were turned away by protestors) unanimously acknowledged that they were not members of any union, and therefore are paid significantly less than workers at companies that honor collective bargaining agreements.
Protests to Save Rockefeller Park Continue as Bulldozers Back Away, For Now
Opposition to the plan by Governor Andrew Cuomo to seize more than 10,000 square feet of Rockefeller Park for an Essential Workers Monument grew more intense on Monday, as 100-plus concerned residents (dozens of them children, accompanied by parents) arrived at the site before 7:00 am and literally laid down in the path of bulldozers, to prevent the demolition and tree-felling needed to begin the work.
Shortly after 7:30 am, frustrated contractors called the NYPD, which dispatched multiple officers from the First Precinct.
Residents Rally for a Voice in Decision about Locating Planned Memorial in Rockefeller Park
More than 150 local residents, many of them young children, gathered in Rockefeller Park on Saturday afternoon to protest plans by the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo to impose there a 29,000-square-foot monument to essential workers who served the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tristan Snell, a Battery Park City resident, and father of a 30-month-old daughter, Katherine, said, “this lawn they are about to tear up is the largest green space in Manhattan south of Central Park. The location they plan to use is where my daughter crawled for the first time. This park is a destination for everybody, not just those of us who live here. And now they want to cut down trees that have been growing here for decades. To read more…
The Graduates 2021
A roundup of Lower Manhattan’s Class of 2021 graduates
Ethan Wallis received a bachelor of arts degree from Hamilton College on Saturday, May 22, in a Commencement ceremony concluding the college’s 209th year.
Jillian Kimberling Named to Dean’s List at Bucknell University during the spring semester of the 2020-21 academic year.
Zoe Morrison was named to The University of Alabama President’s List for Spring Semester 2021
Vanessa Block earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and William Steere, Bachelor of Science degree degree from the University of Vermont
Jingyi Wang, of Beijing and Lower Manhattan, graduated from Georgia State University during the Spring 2021 semester. Wang earned a Master of Science In Analytics degree with a concentration in Data Science in Business.
Monica Jeon has earned a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interactionfrom the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
The University of Mississippi: Sea Louise Bensimon, was among the more than 5,000 candidates for graduation in the Class of 2021. Bensimon, a Sport and Recreation Admin major, was a candidate for a B.A. in Sport and Recreation Admin degree in the School of Applied Sciences.
Akram Abiskaroon at Fordham University and John Hensley also at Fordham University were initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Antonio Ducrot, a member of the Colgate University Class of 2023, has earned the fall 2020 Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. Ducrot is a English major and a graduate of Fieldston School, from New York, NY (10013).
Hallie Hayne was named to the dean’s list at Bates College for the fall semester ending in December 2020.
Hayne, the daughter of Patrick W. Hayne and Barrie L. Schwartz, is a 2020 graduate of Berkeley Carroll School.
‘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…
To the editor:
Governor Cuomo was so on pitch during the early days of the pandemic.
A sane sound voice both here in NYC, and to hear my faraway friends, throughout the country. This plan to “usurp” land in our community is the second (after writing the book and not donating the proceeds to our State) where he’s gotten it wrong; hit a bad note. I thought he wanted to be Governor again.
And more importantly what is his mother going to say?
To the editor:
Yes, monumental. Nice play on words, but not a playful situation. Not seeking community input is further eroding my opinion of the Governor for whom I once had great respect.
Statement from Lindsey Boylan, a career urban planner, former Deputy Secretary of Economic Development and Housing for the State of New York, and Manhattan Borough President candidate.
From Governors Island to East River Park to Battery Park, New York City’s green space is under attack. Masters of the universe like Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have no concept between the lack of respect for our environment and the climate crisis. They do not understand that parks are for the people, especially in urban centers like New York City where access to green space is a matter of environmental justice.
Now the governor is forcing yet another monument to his precious ego under the guise of honoring our essential workers. But the governor does not care about our essential workers any more than he cares about the families of the nursing home residents whose deaths he covered up. If the governor truly cared about the heroes of the pandemic, he would work with city leaders and local residents to build a community-driven monument, rather than simply showing up with earth-moving equipment.
The governor keeps putting monuments in Battery Park City to exert unilateral control with empty gestures. His only objectives are to stay in power and to line his pockets at the expense of COVID victims. I stand with the Battery Park community and urge the next borough president to find the courage to stand up to Albany and City Hall in order to protect our communities’ beloved green space.
To the editor:
I wish to thank and applaud Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Cuccia for their profound conveyance of the sentiments of the Lower Manhattan community and to add that placement of such a monument in BPC, a largely affluent, majority White neighborhood, at least by comparison to those most greatly impacted by COVID, is not only the wrong thing to do in terms of location for many reasons, but is also racially and socially unjust and harmful, a real slap in the face to the many essential workers who traveled here and elsewhere, in the midst of disaster, putting their lives at risk, sometimes for minimum wage jobs, from the outer boroughs… the same people many of whom were on a hunger strike mere months ago fighting for their share in COVID relief…and to the disproportionate number of people of color and/or low incomes who fell ill or died from the virus.
This monument belongs in the Bronx or Queens and could serve to bring those communities desperately needed tourism in addition to the respect and honor they deserve for supporting NY through this tragedy.
The governor did the right thing in signing the NY Heroes Act and allocating $2.1B of the State’s budget to the Excluded Worker Fund. It makes no sense for him to now, just two months later, tell the recipients to go fly a kite.
To the editor:
The BPC community is up in arms about Governor Cuomo’s planned Essential Worker Memorial to be placed in the valued Rockefeller Park. Petition circulating, support needed. As an essential worker (social worker at NYU Langone) I can say that green space and parks are the best way to maintain mental health and cope with the stress of the pandemic. Save our park. Click here to sign the petition.
Spread the word.
To the editor:
Please move the Essential Worker Monument to another location in the state and stop taking away our children’s open play areas.
Battery Park City has been through much turmoil over the years and the littering of monuments across once green space in our residential neighborhood brings daily reminders of sadness to us and to our children who are already struggling emotionally. From the attacks on the World Trade Center, to the East Coast Memorial, to the Irish Hunger, to the Hurricane in Puerto Rico, and the American Merchant Mariners, among countless others, we already have too many reminders.
PLEASE move this monument to another location in the state. Let us continue to enjoy running free in the grass of Rockefeller Park, and please let us keep this park as green and beautiful as it was intended and without the constant reminders of sadness and hard times.
All of us, regardless of our age, want to run free in the vast field of Rockefeller Park green, amongst the trees, bushes and beautiful gardens. We want to continue to enjoy the migrating birds, play soccer, baseball, picnic, fly kites, sunbathe, build snow forts and snow people.
The park is constantly very crowded with friends sharing the beautiful escape. Each of us wants to find solitude as we create our own escape in the current world we live in. We want to provide freedoms to our children, without having to worry about the risk of an eternal flame burning them.
Just stop by and you will see the bustling enjoyment each person feels as they take in the beauty of the grass and the open space and now the heart breaking sorrow and anger as they see the trucks and workers preparing to break ground.
To the editor:
I read the paper almost every day and wonder how these people get elected. I have been expecting a backlash with each election but it doesn’t seem to happen. But it will.
Amos Nachoum is one of the greatest underwater photographers of all times. Fascinated by the most fearsome creatures on Earth, he has developed a unique approach that puts him face to face with his subjects, without any protection. He has gone swimming with crocodiles and killer whales, and with anacondas and great white sharks, but one major predator has always eluded him: the polar bear. He tried before and barely escaped, but now, as he nears the end of his career, he is determined to give it one last shot. Nachoum’s journey unfolds in the award-winning new film Picture of His Life (75 minutes, English, no subtitles) by Israeli directing duo Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin. In the film, Nachoum travels to the Canadian high Arctic at the same time as he reckons with his painful memories of the horrors of war. Where others find fear, Nachoum finds redemption. $10
In 1976, Aulcie Perry was playing basketball in Harlem when scouts from Maccabi Tel Aviv spotted and signed him. A year later, he led the team to their first European Championship, converted to Judaism, and became an Israeli citizen. Perry’s rise to fame was precipitous, and his relationship with supermodel Tami Ben Ami became the subject of relentless media attention, solidifying his status as one of Israel’s biggest stars. But behind the scenes, Perry had a growing drug addiction that culminated in his arrest and imprisonment, and since his release he has committed himself to uplifting those suffering from drug abuse and addiction. Dani Menken’s new documentary Aulcie (75 minutes, English, no subtitles) tells the story of this legendary athlete.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
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.
News Analysis & Opinion
Housing Costs and Predictability in Battery Park City: A Statement from Benjamin Jones, President and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority
At the Battery Park City Authority, we make it a point to regularly communicate with our community’s residents—renters and owners alike—about our role in managing, maintaining, and improving this world-class neighborhood.
We do so at Community Board meetings and public events, during public board meetings, in our regular community newsletters, and via our Strategic Plan—and even as we encounter each other during our daily routines (as we hope to be doing more of soon).
In this letter, I’d like to talk to you about our role in addressing a concern we hear frequently—housing costs and predictability—and what we’re doing about it.
Welfare of Residents Should by BPCA’s Top Priority, Says Homeowner’s Coalition President
(Editor’s Note: The author, Pat Smith, is the president of the Battery Park City Homeowner’s Coalition, and the president of the Battery Pointe condominium board. He writes here in reply to a recent opinion piece by Battery Park City Authority president and chief executive officer B.J. Jones, which was published in the BroadsheetDAILY on June 23, and can be found HERE.)
Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) president Benjamin Jones lays out an articulate explanation of the ground rent situation in this community. There is one area, however, on which we might have disagreement. In discussing how the BPCA is addressing the issue of increasing ground rents, Mr. Jones writes: To read more…
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.
1967 – Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” goes #1 for 15 weeks
TOP ROW: (1) Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru) (2) Aleister Crowley (occultist) (3) Mae West (actress) (4) Lenny Bruce (comedian) (5) Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer) (6) W. C. Fields (comedian/actor) (7) Carl Jung (psychiatrist) (8) Edgar Allan Poe (writer) (9) Fred Astaire (actor/dancer) (10) Richard Merkin (artist) (11) The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas) (12) Leo Gorcey (image was removed from cover, but a space remains) (13) Huntz Hall (actor) (14) Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers) (15) Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
SECOND ROW: (16) Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator) (17) Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister) (18) Aldous Huxley (writer) (19) Dylan Thomas (poet) (20) Terry Southern (writer) (21) Dion DiMucci (singer/songwriter) (22) Tony Curtis (actor) (23) Wallace Berman (artist) (24) Tommy Handley (comedian) (25) Marilyn Monroe (actress) (26) William S. Burroughs (writer) (27) Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru) (28) Stan Laurel (actor/comedian) (29) Richard Lindner (artist) (30) Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian) (31) Karl Marx (political philosopher) (32) H. G. Wells (writer) (33) Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru) (34A) James Joyce (Irish poet and novelist) – barely visible below Bob Dylan (34) Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)
(35) Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle) (36) Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy) (37) Max Miller (comedian) (38) A “Petty Girl” (by artist George Petty) (39) Marlon Brando (actor) (40) Tom Mix (actor) (41) Oscar Wilde (writer) (42) Tyrone Power (actor) (43) Larry Bell (artist) (44) David Livingstone (missionary/explorer) (45) Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor) (46) Stephen Crane (writer) – barely visible between Issy Bonn’s head and raised arm (47) Issy Bonn (comedian) (48) George Bernard Shaw (playwright) (49) H. C. Westermann (sculptor) (50) Albert Stubbins (English footballer) (51) Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru) (52) Lewis Carroll (writer) (53) T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”)
(54) Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer) (55) A “Petty Girl” (by George Petty) (56) Wax model of George Harrison (57) Wax model of John Lennon (58) Shirley Temple (child actress) – barely visible behind the wax models of John and Ringo, first of three appearances on the cover (59) Wax model of Ringo Starr (60) Wax model of Paul McCartney (61) Albert Einstein (physicist) – largely obscured (62) John Lennon holding a French horn (63) Ringo Starr holding a trumpet (64) Paul McCartney holding a cor anglais (65) George Harrison holding a piccolo (65A) Bette Davis (actress) – hair barely visible on top of George’s shoulder (66) Bobby Breen (singer) (67) Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer) (68) Mahatma Gandhi was planned for this position, but was deleted prior to publication (69) An American legionnaire (70) Wax model of Diana Dors (actress) (71) Shirley Temple (child actress) – second appearance on the cover
70 – Roman General Titus and his forces set up battering rams to assault the walls of Jerusalem
1517 – First burning of Protestants at stake in Netherlands
1517 – Inquisitor Adrian Boeyens (pope Adrianus VI) becomes cardinal
1535 – Sir Thomas More goes on trial in England charged with treason
1656 – First Quakers, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin arrive in Boston and subsequently imprisoned.
In 1652, as a Quaker ‘Publisher of Truth’ Mary Fisher publicly rebuked the vicar of Selby church in an address to his congregation. She was imprisoned in York Castle and later confined again with five other Quakers after issuing a pamphlet, ‘False Teachers and False Prophets Described’.
In 1653, accompanied by Elizabeth Williams, Fisher walked to Cambridge as part of the Quaker drive to proselytise the south of England. There they rebuked the student theologians at Sidney Sussex College as their Quaker aversion to organised religion also extended to the colleges where ministers were trained. On the order of the Mayor they
were taken to the market cross under the pretext that they were vagabonds, stripped to the waist and flogged. They were the first Quakers to be publicly flogged for their ministry.
1798 – Napoleon’s fleet reaches Alexandria, Egypt
1836 – President Andrew Jackson announces to Congress bequest by James Smithson of 100,000 gold sovereigns to found the Smithsonian Institute institution in Washington.
1858 – The joint reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s paperson evolution to the Linnean Society.
1862 – Internal Revenue Law imposes first federal taxes on inheritance, tobacco and on incomes over $600 (progressive rate)
1863 – Battle of Gettysburg, Pa; Lee’s northward advance halted
1874 – First US zoo opens in Philadelphia
1879 – Charles Taze Russell publishes the first edition of the religious magazine The Watchtower.
1917 – 257cm-mirror for Mount Wilson Observatory mounted
1917 – Race riots in East St Louis with 40 to 200 reported killed
1934 – First x-ray photo of entire body, Rochester, NY
1946 – US drops atom bomb on Bikini atoll (4th atomic explosion)
1948 – NYC subway fare goes to 10 cents, bus fare to 7 cents and combo fare at 12 cents
1959 – Israeli Knesset agrees to weapon sales to West-Germany
1960 – Fidel Castro nationalizes Esso, Shell & Texaco in Cuba
1960 – USSR shoots down US RB-47 reconnaissance plane
1963 – ZIP Codes are introduced for United States mail.
1967 – Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” goes #1 for 15 weeks
1968 – The CIA’s Phoenix Program is officially established.
1972 – Ms. magazine begins publishing
1979 – Sony introduces the Walkman.
2013 – Demonstrations occur across Egypt with 15 million people calling for the resignation of their President, Mohammed Morsi
1788 – Jean-Victor Poncelet, mathematician, founded projective geometry
1807 – Thomas Green Clemson, mining engineer, endowed Clemson University
1869 – William Strunk Jr., American grammarian (d. 1946)
1872 – Louis Bleriot, First man to fly an airplane across English Channel
1902 – Billy Wyler, director (Ben Hur, Mrs Miniver)
1906 – Estée Lauder, CEO (Estée Lauder cosmetics) (d. 2004)
1784 – Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, composer, son of J.S. Bach, dies at 73
1860 – Charles Goodyear, American inventor, dies at 59
1896 – Harriet Beecher Stowe, US author (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), dies at 85
1958 – Dr. Harry Nicholls Holmes, (crystallized vitamin A), dies at 78
1995 – Wolfman Jack, disc jockey (Midnight Special), dies at 57
1983 – R Buckminster Fuller, inventor/philosopher, dies in LA at 87
2004 – Marlon Brando, actor (The Godfather, A Street Cart Named Desire and “On the Water Front) dies at 80