2012-08-10 / Letters

Flagpole Responsibility

Dear Editor,

My family is responsible for the flagpole erected at the end of Beach 128 Street that in the past weeks has been fodder for many comments and editorials in this and other media outlets.

My family would like to thank all of the many, overwhelming really, residents and friends and interested fellow New Yorkers who expressed their support in so many ways. Letters, e-mails, calls and notes to NYC officials and just warm expressions of support in person. Most, if not all, of that positive response, despite all of the emotion and distortion driven by a few, simply thanking us for replacing what everyone missed on the block, a lost flag pole and a flag.

We readily admit, in hindsight, that after seeking advice from a number of what we respected as informed sources, it turned out that we had not followed the appropriate city processes for approval. However, despite what others may attempt to assert, we never misled anyone about our intentions, we did ask all the residents on the beach block and others if they would support the placement of a flagpole and a memorial. Even those now requesting the removal of both admit they agreed.

We sought to provide something to the neighborhood that would be both a suitable monument as well as something residents wanted and would appreciate. We even incorporated residents’ suggestions to dampen the noise from a flagpole by including plastic sleeves. All, ALL of the residents said they always wanted to replace the flagpole that had previously stood at the end of the block but had not been sturdy enough to last. We strove to provide the best possible replacement and invested to do just that.

We feel it is at best disingenuous for a few residents to, after the fact, raise objections such as obstructed views (we replaced something already there), turning the beach into a cemetery (we have already removed the memorial plaque), or who is or isn’t patriotic. This also is not about placement in the “baffle” vs outside. The difference is merely a few feet. What this seems to be is one resident’s view of extracting her view of justice because as she wrote “if the family...had not scattered her ashes on the beach...none of this controversy would have occurred.” Those raising objections seem to make a distinction about the acceptability of the flagpole based on the intention behind it, i.e. a remembrance.

Let’s all cut through the emotion and distortive nonsense. Residents have overwhelmingly supported the flag and pole, our family has met with and is working through the proper channels within NYC to make it all legal, we have removed the “offensive” marker. What more needs to happen for us all to acknowledge that the majority of residents have spoken and the very small minority are not only greatly out-voted but also out of reasonable, meaningful objections to this beautiful respectful gift and improved replacement for something that always existed. The source or the motivation for this is not relevant or important. To represent any other objections is not being honest and in fact is being small minded and petty.

We appreciate the outpouring of good wishes and support and thank all those who took the time to engage in this issue to help make this happen.

CATHY SOMERVILLE KENDALL

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