2005-02-04 / Editorial/Opinion

Rockaway To Art’s Commission: It’s Not Your Business

Nearly 41 months after the horrendous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that killed 70 local residents, Rockaway still waits for a fitting memorial to their deaths. That we do not yet have what most other communities who were impacted by that day already have is due to the relentless meddling of the New York City Art’s Commission and the Department of Parks. Shortly after September 11, 2001, a group of local citizens and representatives of civic groups met under the aegis of the Community Board, to set up a committee that would study the development of a fitting Rockaway memorial. The committee grew and broke up into subcommittees on financing the memorial, a credible site and the design of the memorial itself. They found that the city put so many roadblocks in its way that the committee tried to “fly under the radar” by never using the word “memorial” and calling it a “community tribute garden.” A site was chosen and the fundraising was put in place. A committee of local residents, chaired by the president of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, chose several finalists from submitted designs. The artists and architects who created those designs then made presentations to the community at the Beach Club. Pictures of each of the finalists were placed in The Wave. The community voted and a final selection was made. Then, after the New York Times wrote about Tribute Park and called it a “memorial to those who died on September 11,” the city stepped back in. The Art’s Commission did not like the design. The Park’s Department did not like the site plan. Rockaway was forced to change and the change continues today. We question whether the Art’s Commission, an elite group of the Arts Literati, who probably have never stepped foot in Rockaway, has a right to change something the community worked so hard to set up. Now is the time for the city to back off and let the community do its best. After all, it should have been our decision all along.

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