Cuomo’s ‘Circle of Heroes’ monument proposed for Battery Park City will be relocated after protests

July 6, 2021

Rendering courtesy fo Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

A new monument honoring essential workers will no longer be built in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park after the community protested its location. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month plans to construct at the Lower Manhattan park a “Circle of Heroes” memorial, which would include a circle of maple trees and an eternal flame. Opponents argue the monument would reduce green space and called out the governor’s office for not working with the community. As seen in a video posted on Instagram last week and as first reported by Gothamist, George Tsunis, the chair of the Battery Park City Authority, told local residents: “This site is going to change. It’s going to be a new site.”

The plan unveiled by Cuomo at the end of June called for a circle of 19 maple trees, representing the individual groups of essential workers of the coronavirus pandemic. In the center, there would be an eternal flame honoring those lost to COVID. Cuomo also called for “Essential Worker Park” to be established at the site.

“While we will never be able to fully repay our essential workers, we can honor and celebrate them with this monument that will stand forever as a tribute to all that they have done for New York in our greatest moment of need and beyond,” Cuomo said in a press release announcing the monument. “These heroes continue to inspire us every day and we are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice.”

The state broke ground on the project last month, aiming for the monument to open to the public on Labor Day. But as Tribeca Citizen first reported, many community members camped out in Rockefeller Park overnight to block construction, which they say would require the removal of several trees.

Protesters also pointed to a lack of transparency from the state about the monument. Plus, two other memorials were recently constructed in the area, one for the victims of Hurricane Maria and another honoring Mother Cabrini.

A petition asking the state to relocate the essential workers monument that launched last month has since collected nearly 8,000 signatures. “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,” the petition reads.

Tsunis told residents that Cuomo is aware of the community’s desire to relocate the monument and that he’s “the one pushing the new location.” The state still hopes to complete the monument by Labor Day.

A new location for the monument will be discussed by Manhattan Community Board 1 during a public hearing on Wednesday.


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