New York's latest monument -- this one dedicated to the state's pandemic frontline workers -- may have hit its biggest snag yet, with state officials hitting the reset button.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plans to erect a monument in Lower Manhattan have essentially gone back to the drawing board with the focus of erecting the monument with community input, a key difference from the state's initial attempt.
It's been almost three weeks since the governor unveiled his plans to construct the new monument in Battery City Park, originally due to be completed by Labor Day, Sept. 6. That date is no longer feasible due to the delay.
Protests from neighbors in Battery City Park were almost instantaneous. Many staging demonstrations at the proposed site said the monument's location was selected without public meetings or hearings on the plan, which called for chopping down trees and replacing grass with concrete.
Battery Park City Authority Chairman George Tsunis, who's served as a leader on the project and met with protesters for hours over the course of the past few weeks, confirmed the Circle of Heroes project would take the necessary step back to incorporate more community partners.
Critics have been vocal that their opposition is not to the monument itself, but toward the potential park loss for another monument in the neighborhood.
"To continue incorporating public feedback into the process, we will put together a new and expanded advisory committee comprised of local stakeholders, essential worker representatives, and others to review options within Battery Park City to select a site and design for a welcome and world-class monument our essential workers so richly deserve," Tsunis said Monday.
There was no new deadline included in his statement.
If it was completed by Labor Day, the monument honoring New York's frontline heroes would have been the third monument installed in Battery Park City within 12 months. Cuomo unveiled a Hurricane Memorial in March of this year and a statue of Mother Cabrini five months earlier.
Cuomo has said the monument would include 19 red maple trees symbolizing the essential workers who carried New York through the pandemic, including nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, transit workers, police officers, EMTs and paramedics, firefighters, correctional officers, store employees, the National Guard, government employees, building service workers, utility and communications workers, delivery drivers, teachers, sanitation workers, construction and manufacturing workers, food service workers and hospitality workers.
The commission of labor leaders representing all essential workers chose the Battery Park City location to install the monument.
"In the beginning of the pandemic when people were told to stay home, essential workers went into work day after day, making sure their fellow New Yorkers were safe, fed and cared for," Cuomo said when he first announced the project. "While we will never be able to fully repay our essential workers, we can honor and celebrate them with this monument that will stand forever as a tribute to all that they have done for New York in our greatest moment of need and beyond."
The monument will also feature an eternal flame as a symbol of New York State's everlasting gratitude for essential workers.
In April, Cuomo announced the formation of the Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee. The committee, comprised of essential workers, met to advise on locations, design and installation of the Essential Workers Monument.