Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can NYC and NYS Justify $8M for FDR Park?

This weekend when I read RIOC President Steve Shane's column, in the Main Street WIRE, and was reminded that NYC and NYS have jointly committed $8 million in total to the planned FDR Four Freedoms Park to be built at Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park I could only cry. How in this economy could this make sense? I don't see how either legislative body could allow such appropriations to continue? How can the constituents of any legislator supporting these appropriations not let them know this is wrong? Yet each of our local legislators supports this plan and no one thinks its improper in today's world.

Think how many job training programs this money could fund? How many New Yorkers could be kept in their homes? How many meals can be provided to out of work City residents? Would you close a city shelter to justify a park?

Are these statements alarmist? Perhaps not. Both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson are predicting the worse is yet to come. Each has already called for massive cuts in existing and prospective budgets. So I ask each of you now how can we keep in the City's and State's budget $8 milion dollars for a park even if the intent is to honor as great a president like FDR? The answer is we can't and we should not.
PS: The $8M is only for Phase 1 of the park's construction and is dependent on FERI matching the $8M. The projected costs for the complete memorial is in excess of $40M and you can bet if the park is started and FERI can not raise the additional funds they will be looking to the City and State to bail them out and to pony up additional funds.


  1. No matter what the economy is it is the government's duty to make sure that we have parks and recreational sites. I don't see this as a waste at all (but then I, as opposed to you, support the memorial).

  2. I agree that the government has a responsibility for parks and recreation.

    However that does not mean that this particular use of Southpoint Park for the so-called FDR memorial, which is in reality a memorial to the architect Louis Kahn, is an appropriate use of taxpayer funds particularly when the Trust For Public Land proposed a park plan for that section of Southpoint Park that would cost a third of what would be spent on the Kahn memorial and not destroy the existing views.

    At a time when other neighborhoods are seeing their parks deteriorate, public taxpayer funds should not be spent on the FDR memorial when lower cost and more appropriate park development plans are available for Roosevelt Island.

  3. All along I have never been against a memorial to FDR. My major problem has been this Kahn design and its use of trees which, if they do not completely block the 360 degree views which have come to define Southpoint park, but which obscure and diminish the beauty and impact of the location.

    But that position has evolved as I have seen many friends lose jobs, some here on the Island, and my belief is that yes, Cities should maintain existing parks and spaces, but shoud not be expending sums of $8 million or more, when these monies can be better spent.