Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Should Roosevelt Island's FDR Memorial Honor and Recognize Overcoming Disabilities Or Architect Louis Kahn - Meeting 5/27 To Discuss

Image of FDR Memorial Wheelchair in Washington DC from Ability Unleashed

RIOC President Steve Shane reports that the Frankin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) will be giving a public presentation regarding their proposed Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island memorial to the architect Louis Kahn, regularly mischaracterized as a memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on Wednesday May 27, 7PM at the Good Shepherd Community Center.

Kahn FDR Memorial Sculpture Room From Village Voice Runnin Scared

From RIOC President Steve Shane:
We have just posted on our website under the Community Information tab the FDR Four Freedoms Park SEQR EAF & Environmental Assessment with its exhibits. Please be advised that it has not been reviewed or acted upon, but is for information and question, to make sure that the "hard look" required bySEQRA has been accorded by RIOC's Board, including such issues and questions as the community may have. Please feel free to copy and disseminate further.

As you know, FERI is going to be making a presentation of the whole project, again, including all that is contained in the EAF, on Wednesday evening at the Good Shepherd, 7 PM.
Roosevelt Island Doctor Jack Resnick will also be making a presentation at the meeting in support of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association's (RIDA) idea to truly honor President Roosevelt as a man and President with a disability who overcame tremendous challenges to become a great leader. The RIDA Board Of Directors issued the following statement explaining why it is so important to publicly recognize that FDR was disabled with Polio and used a wheelchair:
On behalf of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and it's many disabled members we want to voice our opposition to a glaring deficit in the current proposal for the FDR Memorial to be built at the Southern tip of Roosevelt Island.

President Roosevelt was disabled by Polio before he was elected President of the United States and used a wheelchair almost exclusively. A statue of President Roosevelt sitting in a wheelchair or standing with the help of his crutches would be most appropriate here on an Island where many disabled people reside, both in apartments and in the two chronic care hospitals. In the same manner that our first black president, Barack Obama, has inspired so many school- aged black children to aspire to higher achievements, once thought to be impossible, such a memorial would have the same effect on the disabled community when viewing a statue of one of our most beloved presidents and realizing that he, too, was disabled and was able to overcome his disability and be elected to the highest office in the country. What an inspiration that would be for the multitude of disabled visitors, especially our wheelchair bound war veterans returning from Iraq, to visualize that despite their disability anything is possible. The memorial, as shown in the artist's sketches. does not portray FDR as disabled and we feel that this is an injustice to us all. It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In this instance, a statue of FDR depicted as our first disabled President would speak volumes to the millions of visitors, disabled and non-disabled who will be visiting The FDR Memorial for generations to come.

Roosevelt Island Disabled Association Board of Directors and it's members
Dr. Resnick proposes:
... The FDR Memorial on this Island should focus on the President’s strength in conquering his disability. Many possibilities come to mind. For instance, he should not be memorialized with a bust. We should see a greater-than-life-sized statue of him sitting in a wheelchair – and he should face north toward Goldwater and Coler Hospital...
The Executive Director of Roosevelt Island's Coler Goldwater Hospital has lent his support to achieving a Roosevelt Island FDR Memorial:
... particularly one acknowledging the tremendous goals he achieved in spite of his disability - a major factor in a large part of the President's life.
The full text of statement is below.

Coler Goldwater Chief Supports Disabled FDR Memorial For Roosevelt Island
Conditional Designation Agreement between RIOC and Four Freedoms Park LLC for FDR Memorial Project at Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island.
The decision as to what a FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island will ultimately be is in the hands of the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors, of which 7 of the 9 are residents of Roosevelt Island. As stated in the February 6, 2009 Conditional Designation Letter for the proposed FERI supported FDR Memorial below:
... RIOC retains all rights at any time to revoke this Agreement and the FDR Project will be subject to approval by RIOC's Board of Directors...
A vote of the RIOC Board may be scheduled for the June 25 meeting.

Conditional Designation Agreement between RIOC and Four Freedoms Park LLC for FDR Memorial Project at Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island.
Conditional Designation Agreement between RIOC and Four Freedoms Park LLC for FDR Memorial Project at Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island.

There's more here.


RI 360 said...

I wonder if the artist who produced the statue of FDR in his wheelchair above would / could make another if she/he would be commissioned to do so and part of the City's money for the park be required to make that purchase. By using the same statue we could effectively tie the two memorials together.

Anonymous said...

At tonight's meeting I was amazed to hear that FERI has made no provision for sanitary facilities
at the memorial nor for transpor-
tation from/to tram or subway.
FERI spoke lovingly about the fine new walkways to the monument but did not take responsibility for their maintenance. If that responsibility is given to the same authority that is responsible for the existing promenade it does not bode very well.

Anonymous said...

Transportation from tram/subway to the park? What happened to walking?

Anonymous said...

Please help me answer some questions involving this design. Mainly, is this a park in any sense of the word? How does paving over a green area constitute creating a "park"?
I just don't understand how converting a green area into a concrete "monument" makes Roosevelt Island better??? The beauty of Roosevelt is its preserved green areas. It is a virtual oasis of open space and uncrowded living conditions. One such perfect area for preservation is the souhthern tip of the island. Please tell me how paving it over to memorialize an architect improves anyone's lives?? Simply mowing the grass would do everyone more justice. As R.I. development increases, I truly hope some sanity and thoughtfullness towards preserving the quality of life and its undeveloped land on the island prevails. It has gotten to the point where there seems to be a scramble to build anything on the island as the Manhattan fever of using up any open space for any project has finally gripped Roosevelt Island. How long before we wish this concrete memorial was out of the way so we could just enjoy time on our waterfront? Let us look forward with ideas on how we can maintain the reasons we chose to live here, and not actively search out ways of increasing "foot traffic" by adding meaningless attractions that contribute very little to the public good. These actions only speaks to a sense of inferiority and by acting recklessly, backs up that opinion. Thank you.