2005-06-24 / Front Page

Letter Reveals Flight 587 Plan

By Brian Magoolaghan

The design competition for the Flight 587 memorial has been narrowed down to five entries that will be unveiled next month, The Wave has learned.

The city’s progress on the memorial, to be built at the south end of Beach 116 Street, is described in a letter from Guillermo Linares, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

“A panel of representatives from City agencies, family members, the Rockaway community and the arts was designated to review the application, and, on June 10, selected five finalists,” Linares says in the letter dated June 17.

A local source familiar with the process said the city received nearly 70 proposals from artists or design teams. Details on the five that made the first cut were not available, but it seems unlikely that any were submitted by local artists or design teams. Geoff Rawling, Rockaway Artists Alliance president, said he is unaware of any proposals submitted by members of his organization.

Linares’ letter suggests that the public’s first glimpse of the design will come in just a few weeks.

“The finalists have been invited to prepare proposals, which will be available for viewing by family members and community members on [Saturday] July 25 and [Sunday] July 26,” Linares wrote.

The letter also reveals that an invitation-only update meeting is scheduled for this Saturday, June 25, at Columbia University in Manhattan.

“At this meeting, we would like to update you on the project, including my recent trip to the Dominican Republic,” Linares said in the letter.

It is not clear how many people received the two-page update/invitation; the city has, thus far, been tight-lipped with its plans. Several update meetings have been held at locations on and off the peninsula, but have been closed to the general public and press.

Both Linares and Immigrant Affairs spokesperson Erica Gonzalez have been evasive when questioned by The Wave on a variety of memorial-related subjects. Last week, a Newsday story on the memorial appeared under the headline, “Crash memorial plans under wraps.”

Thus far, the public’s only clue to how the memorial process will unfold has been the city’s formal Request For Proposals, which was released in May by the Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Cultural Affairs.

A last minute call seeking comment from Immigrant Affiars for this story was not returned by press time.

The deadlines listed in the RFP make it clear that the $2 million memorial project has been fast-tracked. In fact, the June 10 selection of the five entries came four days earlier than the “anticipated” first phase selection date outlined in the RFP.

The final selection of an artist or design team is scheduled for the end of July.

“We hope to have an approved design by Fall 2005, and construction completed by Fall 2006,” Linares says in the letter.

The Wave also obtained a copy of the “Flight 587 Memorial Family Comments” questionnaire that was released by Cultural Affairs earlier this month. It asks respondents general questions about what they think the memorial “should do,” what they would like to be able to do there and what they would not like to see take shape there.

Responses to the questionnaire were due back last week. It was unclear exactly who was polled.

The five entries selected on June 10 are scheduled for unveiling July 25 and 26, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Cultural Affairs Manhattan office, 330 West 42 Street, 11 floor.

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