New York City, NY
United States
Hudson River Park at former Pier 49, between W 11th and W 12th Street New York City AIDS Memorial since 30 November 2008
without names
Design unveiled for AIDS monument in the Village
There recently had been concern that the effort to erect an AIDS memorial in Greenwich Village had faltered, mainly because not much had been heard of from the organization that had been spearheading the campaign.
However, the AIDS Monument Committee does indeed still exist, and last Thursday four of its members came to Community Board 2 to present the committee’s plan for a memorial in the recently opened Greenwich Village section of Hudson River Park.
Lawrence Swehla, president of the AIDS Monument Committee, which was founded in 1995 and is incorporated, said their intention is to “build the monument and give it to New York City". “It is our firm belief that the monument will inspire dialogue about the disease,” he said.
The site at which the monument is proposed is a semicircular lawn area at Bank St., with a berm of pines on its east side and the remnants of Pier 49’s pilings sticking out of the Hudson to the west. The plan for the memorial is to create a stone bench or plinth, 20 ft. long by 20 in. high, with a carved inscription. This bench would ring an existing strip of stone paving that curves around the lawn. Into the backless bench would be carved words from a traditional Swedish hymn that was felt to be appropriate for the site near the water: “I can sail without wind; I can sail without oars. But I cannot part from my friend without tears.”
There will also be a statement written in a small space on top of the memorial to explain the site to passersby: “This site is dedicated to those whose lives have been ever changed by AIDS. Remembering those who have died, may we, the living, speak for their silence.”
In early 2001, representatives from Bailey House, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Board 2, the Trust and the AIDS Monument Committee met to discuss a memorial site for somewhere in the soon-to-be-completed Hudson River Park. Later that spring, the representatives toured the park with Fishman. Progress was slowed by 9/11, but the committee moved forward with the memorial, and discussions and correspondence between the parties led to the adoption of the quote and statement for the memorial. With the opening of the park’s Village section six months ago, the parties have refocused on the monument’s development.
The AIDS Monument Committee’s membership is “a diverse group of concerned citizens,” according to the group’s written materials, including gay and straight, parents and children, married and single, from nine states and several foreign countries, at its peak including 175 individuals. In addition to Swehla, a public school teacher who lives in the East Village, and LaPlaca, a designer who lives in Chelsea, its two other board members are Deborah Foley, a Prudential vice president, and Michael Sypulski, a painter and former East Villager.
Following approvals by its Waterfront Committee and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee, Board 2 approved the monument at its full board meeting last week.
Several years ago, the AIDS monument was planned at Collect Pond Park at Centre and Lafayette Sts. by the courts and abutting a parking lot. Then-Councilmember Kathryn Freed gave $150,000 for the project, but then-Mayor Giuliani earmarked the site for a courthouse — which to date hasn’t been built. Freed’s allocation went back into the city’s general fund and the AIDS monument in Hudson River Park will now be built without government funding. In the end, things may have worked out for the best; Swehla said compared to the previous somewhat grim location, he prefers the Village waterfront site. “It’s just magnificent,” he said. Image © AIDS Monument Committee The Villager

26 November 2003
Lincoln Anderson, New York