Cuomo slammed for taking green space to build COVID memorial

Residents of Battery Park City are protesting a plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take green space from a neighborhood park to make means for a concrete coronavirus memorial to honor important staff.

The rising variety of opponents stated they had been blindsided and steamrolled by Cuomo, who made the announcement final week to erect the “Circle of Heroes” memorial for COVID staff in Rockefeller Park — with out enter from the Battery Park City group.

“This memorial requires bulldozing a local community park with natural grass and trees where many friends and family members gathered safely outdoors during the pandemic, and where many children run and play. The memorial will replace natural grass with concrete and an ‘eternal flame,’” stated Battery Park City resident Adrian Mak.

“The memorial site was chosen in secret without any public hearings, public meetings, or community input.”

Cuomo appointed a job pressure consisting completely of union leaders to suggest a website and excluded any members from the Battery Park City group, critics stated.

People hold signs and chant in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City.
“The memorial will replace natural grass with concrete,” a Battery Park City resident identified.
Robert Mecea

Cuomo stated the brand new memorial would open on Labor Day, and have an everlasting flame together with 19 crimson maple timber, symbolizing the 19 forms of important staff that saved the town afloat in the course of the darkest days of the pandemic.

Opponents began a online petition that has been signed by practically 5,000 folks.

Battery Park City is positioned on state land abutting New York Harbor alongside the decrease West Side. The governor appoints members to the Battery Park City Authority’s governing board.

Battery Park residents and youngsters protested in Rockefeller Park Tuesday morning, with sleep-in tents and indicators that learn, “Save NYC’s Green Space” and “Kids Needs Nature.”

Signs on a construction fence in Rockefeller Park.
Battery Park City residents protested the development of the COVID memorial on Tuesday.
James Messerschmidt

In a partial reprieve, building staff moved gear and tarps off the garden following complaints from park customers.

Local politicians slammed the Cuomo plan.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, in a twitter statement, stated, “New York’s essential workers deserve our honor and respect — and we can commemorate them with a memorial. But bulldozing vital open space in lower Manhattan isn’t the way to do it.@NYGovCuomo needs to #PauseTheSaws and consult with the community on location and design.”

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who additionally represents BPC, despatched a fiery letter to Cuomo Monday urging him to cease the challenge.

“I am writing to urge you to halt current plans to erect a memorial in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park. The announcement on June 23rd about the monument’s siting and expedited construction timeline came as a shock to my office and the local Battery Park City community,” stated Chin.

Chin stated it’s third instance of Cuomo erecting monuments in Battery Park City whereas ignoring native residents, declaring the Hurricane Maria Memorial devoted in 2018 and the Mother Frances Cabrini statue erected final 12 months.

Workers remove construction equipment from Rockefeller Park.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the memorial location, however agreed to transfer it from the middle of the park to a nook space following blowback from the group.
Robert Mecea

“The project is on course to create serious quality of life issues for local residents, who have relied on this open green space throughout the pandemic. I strongly encourage you to order construction to stop until there has been a proper process of community engagement with local residents and elected officials,” Chin stated within the letter to Cuomo.

Chin and different opponents stated important staff who died in the course of the pandemic deserve a memorial — however at a extra central location.

Community Board 1 stated in a statement on twitter, “Governor Cuomo announced he was taking away park space last week and the earth moving equipment showed up before the weekend was up. All this because he refuses to work with the Mayor [Bill de Blasio] to jointly honor Essential Workers. This is where the children play.”

De Blasio declined remark.

Cuomo defended the BPC location for the important staff’ memorial. But in a compromise, he has agreed to transfer it from the middle of the park to a nook space after listening to group blowback, an administration official stated.

“We’re proud to be planting 19 trees for a life-affirming monument in a destination park made for all New Yorkers to enjoy, in the shadow of the symbol of New York’s resilience and openness,” stated Cuomo spokesman Jordan Bennett.

“This location was chosen in an open process by 23 leaders representing hundreds of thousands of essential workers, and the site design allows for people to continue to enjoy the park space. We look forward to working with everyone who uses this public space and to seeing generations of New Yorkers from across the state enjoy and celebrate this monument.”

Cuomo’s workplace additionally stated the Essential Workers Monument will take up solely 3,000 sq. toes or two % of the Rockefeller Park’s 143,000 sq. toes of space.

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