The Irish Hunger Memorial could soon have a new neighbor - the contested Circle of Heroes essential workers memorial, renderings for which were first published by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in June.
Members of the Irish American community, as well as local residents in the Battery Park area of downtown New York City, have come out in opposition to Governor Cuomo’s proposal to erect the new Circle of Heroes essential workers memorial adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial.
In renderings first shared by Governor Cuomo on June 23, the plan was to have the Circle of Heroes memorial erected within Rockefeller Park, where the Irish Hunger Memorial is also located.
Those initial plans were quickly scrapped following intense pushback and the 'Pause the Saws' movement, which has now refocused on recently confirmed alternate sites.
On Wednesday evening, it was confirmed during a conference call between Manhattan Community Board 1 (MCB1) and the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) that, following "public feedback," there are two potential alternate sites - adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial and the Esplanade Plaza.
Neither of the sites has won the immediate approval of local residents who argue that they were not consulted in the process, that the memorial’s design is not fitting, that the area is already “overburdened” with memorials, that the project is being rushed (Cuomo is eyeing an unveiling date of September 6, Labor Day), amongst other grievances.
The Irish and Irish American community has expressed similar sentiments, saying that potentially placing the new memorial so close could "undermine" the Irish Hunger Memorial, which was completed in 2002.
Adrian Flannelly, the Irish Cultural Liasion for the Irish Hunger Memorial, expressed his disappointment to IrishCentral on Thursday that he had not been engaged in the proposal.
Several local NYC politicians have come out in opposition as well.
Putting Essential Workers Memorial next to Irish Hunger Memorial is a bad idea. Both deserve dignity & respect & this proposed site doesn’t accomplish that. Maybe the Essential Workers Memorial should be put in my district near Elmhurst Hospital, the epicenter of the epicenter. https://t.co/Z06F0ibXB7— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) July 8, 2021
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo's office issued a statement on behalf of George Tsnuis, the chair of the BPCA, to IrishCentral which said in part: "We look forward to sharing the updated plans for the monument."
Later in the day on Thursday, the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association (BPCNA) said in a letter to BPCA Chairman Tsunis that should Cuomo ultimately select the area adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial, the association would be willing to work with the BPCA on several conditions, including "respect for the Irish Hunger Memorial."
Pending no major developments over the weekend, those in opposition to the proposal are expected to host a rally and press conference at the Irish Hunger Memorial on Monday afternoon.
So we want to know - are you for or against the Circle of Heroes essential workers memorial being place adjacent to the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City? Let us know in our latest IrishCentral Readers Poll, here: