Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Louis Kahn Southpoint Park Memorial Supporters Slurping at the Public Trough - Seeking $20 Million in Public Taxpayer Funds

Image of feeding at the public trough from The Troy Polloi

Roosevelt Islanders learned from RIOC President Steve Shane at last week's Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting that the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) is now seeking $20 million in taxpayer funds for one-half of the estimated total $40 million development cost of the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial at Southpoint Park. This latest development is even more outrageous then just trying to stick the Kahn memorial on Roosevelt Island against the wishes of the residents using private funds for the last 35 years. Funds which, to date, they have not been able to raise through private sources but which has prevented other park developments, such as the full Trust For the Public Land plan (PDF File) from moving forward.

$20 million in taxpayer funds could be used for the Roosevelt Island Public Library, P.S./I.S. 217, fixing our decaying infrastructure, improving transportation or subsidizing ferry service, developing the rest of Southpoint Park and a whole host of more necessary and worthy uses of taxpayer funds than the Louis Kahn memorial. I would be interested to see if our elected representatives who support the Kahn Memorial, Councilmember Lappin, Assemblymember Kellner, State Senator Serrano, Congresswomen Maloney and Borough President Stringer are in favor of using $20 million in public taxpayer funds for this use? These officials are usually so good on issues facing Roosevelt Island. Can they look at us with a straight face and say they support providing $20 million in taxpayer funds for the Kahn/FDR memorial? And what will Governor Spitzer do? In fact, what do the supporters think that President Franklin Roosevelt would have thought of spending $20 million in taxpayer funds on a memorial to him when their are so many other public needs to be taken care of?

Even with private funding most Roosevelt Islanders oppose the Kahn memorial. When a resident, not me, referred to the memorial as the "Kahn" memorial during the Town Hall meeting, Mr. Shane interrupted her statement by saying it is the FDR memorial. We all know that Mr. Shane is incorrect on this point. This is a vanity memorial to a famous architect - that is why the supporters will not allow any changes to it- not a memorial to President Franklin Roosevelt which we all favor.

The view as currently exists from Southpoint Park.

Click on this link for the full beautiful panoramic effect.

Here is a You Tube video with a 360 degree view from Southpoint Park.

Now take a look at the proposed Louis Kahn project.

Image from Architectural Record

Below image from Cooper Union Exhibit

Image from NY Times

It is an indisputable fact that the one-of-a-kind, awesome and beautiful, panoramic views of the East River waterfront and Brooklyn/Queens/Manhattan skyline pictured above that are currently available from any spot at the southern end of Southpoint Park will be blocked and lost forever by the construction and placement of the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR concrete and granite memorial at the tip of Southpoint Park.

The first two items on the Thursday, March 6 Agenda of Community Planning Board 8 Park's Committee have to do with Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park and the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial. Tomorrow's meeting will be held at the NY Blood Center, 310 East 67th Street, New York, conference room 1. Here's Roosevelt Island 360's take on the potential for lost views at Southpoint Park and announcement of tomorrow night's meeting.

Update: 5/6 - NY Times on New York City and State budget cuts:
for garbage collection, public libraries, cultural programs, meals for the elderly, tutoring at the City University of New York and summer jobs for youth.
Yeah, let's spend $20 million of taxpayer funds on the Louis Kahn memorial. Great idea.