NEW YORK — Monday afternoon marked a celebration of victory for residents of the newly formed community group, the Battery Park City Neighbors Association.
After a week of protests and sit-ins inside Rockefeller Park, the group was successful in saving local trees and pausing construction on the “Circle of Heroes” memorial.
What You Need To Know
- After a week of protests and sit-ins inside Rockefeller Park, the group was successful in pausing plans for the “Circle of Heroes” memorial
- The memorial, honoring the sacrifice of front-line workers during the pandemic, was originally designed to be built on a popular shady stretch of the lawn
- Community members said they were never consulted, and cherish the shady green space that would be placed by the memorial
“It is also a way to sort of send a message: We are still here, we are waiting, we are vigilant,” Battery Park City resident Kelly McGowan explained. “And it also is a way to recognize the energy, passion and love that went into saving this space.”
The memorial, honoring the sacrifice of front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, was originally designed to be built on a popular shady stretch of the lawn.
Construction required the green space, as well as many trees, to be torn up and replaced by concrete, and a monument in a circle with 19 red maple trees and an eternal flame.
The community said they were never consulted, and cherish the shady green space. Their pushback scrapped the state’s plans.
“We want a seat at the table. Any time that something is done in our neighborhood, we want to be consulted,” said local resident Britni Erez. “We want our voices heard and we want to have that consistently, today and tomorrow.”
Erez used the space during the peak of the pandemic for her kids to safely see her husband, a doctor at a local hospital.
She says the group wants to honor essential workers but without giving up green space that has become all the more valuable since the pandemic’s peak.
“A real way to honor essential workers is to add trees, add grass and provide more places for essential workers to come out and find peace,” she said.
The group of residents say they expect to hear alternative plans from the governor’s office Tuesday about a new design and location for the “Circle of Heroes” memorial.
The governor’s office says the project has and continues to incorporate community feedback.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article reported that the state met with community members Monday. It was city elected officials who met with community members Monday.
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