Battery Park Monument for Essential Workers Is Paused After Protests

After weeks of protests that included an in a single day camp, Battery Park City residents have been advised on Monday that plans to construct a monument there for important staff had been paused amid calls for for extra group enter.

A monument remains to be within the works, however the state will set up an advisory committee with group residents and leaders to assist choose the monument’s location and design, mentioned George J. Tsunis, the chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, which oversees public areas on the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

“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,” Mr. Tsunis wrote in an announcement on Monday.

In June, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced plans to construct a tribute at Rockefeller Park to important staff within the coronavirus pandemic, with the objective of ending development by Labor Day. The preliminary model of the monument was accepted by an advisory committee appointed by the governor, consisting primarily of union leaders for important staff equivalent to nurses and firefighters.

That announcement was instantly met with outcry from Battery Park City residents, who mentioned the choice had been made with out consulting them.

Many additionally criticized the design of the monument, which initially consisted of 19 new timber, pavement that will substitute some garden house, and an “eternal flame.” Residents mentioned they feared shedding priceless inexperienced house for their households, and a few expressed concern over the environmental price of a nonstop open fireplace.

A brand new proposal final week from the Battery Park City Authority to maneuver the tribute close to the neighborhood’s Irish Hunger Memorial was additionally met with outrage.

Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat who represents components of Manhattan and Brooklyn, introduced at a rally on Monday that the Battery Park City Authority had formally put plans for the monument on maintain.

More than 50 Battery Park residents gathered beneath cloudy skies outdoors the Irish Hunger Memorial alongside native leaders together with Tammy Meltzer, head of Manhattan Community Board 1, and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. Mr. Nadler made the announcement to raucous cheers and applause from the group.

The venture is now not anticipated to be accomplished by Labor Day, Mr. Tsunis mentioned in his assertion.

“We want grieving families of lost essential workers to know that Battery Park City respects their sacrifice and contribution, but B.P.C.A. residents feel strongly, and potential litigation by residents would further extend the process,” he mentioned.

In response to a request for remark, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo referred to Mr. Tsunis’s assertion.

The web site the place a memorial for important staff was set to be inbuilt Battery Park. Residents mentioned they feared shedding priceless inexperienced house for their households.Credit…Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times

Residents attending the rally have been overjoyed by the announcement, with some saying they have been pleasantly shocked by the energy of native political leaders’ response. Others have been joyful that the group’s residents have been capable of unify so rapidly.

“We’ve never actually been very organized; this was the catalyst to do that,” mentioned Kelly McGowan, 58, a member of the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association and one of many residents who camped in Rockefeller Park in a single day to protest development. “We got everything we wanted and nobody raised their voice. No arguments, no yelling.”

In response to questions over whether or not the group’s response amounted to a “not in my backyard” angle, a number of residents on the rally mentioned their concern was much less concerning the location of the tribute and extra concerning the lack of transparency from the state concerning the development course of.

“That’s always a right and proper question for folks to ask,” mentioned Eric Gyasi, 38, a lawyer who spoke for the neighborhood affiliation throughout the rally. “What we feel as a community is we would just like to have an opportunity to be part of the decision-making process. We respect and value our essential workers of all stripes.”

“We wanted to have a monument that was befitting of the sacrifices that they made,” Mr. Gyasi added.