Brooklyn Daily Eagle: State Halts Controversial Construction on Marsha P. Johnson Park

Originally published in Brooklyn Daily Eagle on March 08, 2021.

On March 8, 2021, the Brooklyn Eagle covered the temporary halt on construction at Marsha P. Johnson State Park. The decision to halt construction came after significant advocacy from elected officials and community members.  Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents had expressed many critiques of the design and the lack of community engagement since the closure of the Park for construction was announced in early January, but State Parks decided to proceed with their plans until recently. During a Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting, family members of Marsha P. Johnson, for whom the Park is named, expressed disappointment and frustration that their family was not properly included in the decision making process related to the Park. Senator Kavanagh, along with colleagues Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, and City Councilmember Stephen Levin showed their support for the family's and the community's concern that there had not been a proper engagement process preceding the park's re-design and sent a letter to Park's Commissioner Erik Kulleseid urging him to halt construction. The full text of the article is below; the original version is available via the link above.
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State halts controversial construction on Marsha P. Johnson Park
Family speaks out

By: Brooklyn Eagle Staff
March 8, 2021 

Construction at Marsha P. Johnson State Park has been stopped temporarily after a Brooklyn Community Board 1 Parks Committee meeting where Marsha’s family members shared their grief on a public forum. Local environmental activists have been fighting against the reconstruction of the former East River State Park in Williamsburg.

The halted construction includes covering a lot in a large, colorful thermoplastic (the paint used for road markings) mural, huge foam core flowers, and sheds to honor the LGBTQ civil rights activist. The $14 million project is sponsored by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Activists have been petitioning against the issue for two months since construction began.

On Thursday, the Parks Committee of Brooklyn Community Board #1 met to discuss the situation to hear from those concerned. The family of Johnson attended the meeting to express their issues about the project. James Carey, cousin of Marsha, spoke about how his family was not included in the discussion of the construction.

“I personally feel this was a mass deception campaign and our family was deceived… no one will be trying to exploit my cousin’s name without consulting with my family,” said Carey.

Anika Dorsey Good, Marsha’s great-niece, continued: “We are very saddened, I would almost say disgusted by the lack of transparency that has taken place.”

Carey had connected with Parks executives last year, but they failed to follow up. “I sent correspondences to the governor personally to let him know that our family as a whole we’re happy that you’re naming the park in the memory of our family member, however, please when the occasion arises, please include us,” he said.

The following day, Matthew McMorrow, Statewide Director of LGBTQ Affairs, wrote “construction has been halted,” in a letter to the Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform, according to the Brooklyn Paper. However, the future of the renovation plans are still unclear.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, and City Councilmember Stephen Levin showed their support for the issue. They sent a letter to Commissioner of NYS Parks Erik Kulleseid urging him to halt construction. “We write to request that you suspend construction activity for this project,” the letter read.

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“It just goes to show what we know about Cuomo in general is that he makes the decisions without necessarily other people’s approval,” Assemblymember Emily Gallagher told the Brooklyn Paper. “I really want to honor Marsha P. Johnson and her family members and trans activists should be fully involved in this.