Construction has halted on the overhaul of the new Marsha P. Johnson Park in Brooklyn after the family of the late activist joined community members who strongly objected to the design and rushed nature of the project. According to a report in Gay City News, Johnson’s relatives, Black trans activists, and members of the community objected to the lack of green space in the park and also objected to th proposed acre of concrete slab covered featuring a rainbow-striped thermoplastic mural. They also mentioned the lack of transparency or input from the community around the venture. The project closed the park for construction in January over the objections of locals after only a few days notice from state officials.
“I personally feel this was a mass deception campaign and our family was deceived,” James Carey, Johnson’s cousin, said at a virtual meeting with Community Board 1’s Parks Committee on March 4. He went on to say that despite repeated efforts to speak with someone about the process, “not one person — no one — responded, and I find it absurd.”
Carey’s anger at being excluded from the planning process was echoed by others at the contentious virtual meeting. Some had started a “Stop the Plastic Park” petition which has gathered over 1,700 signatures — that petition was specifically calling out the thermoplastic mural.
“Stop saying y’all consulted the Black trans community, we are the Black trans community,” said Maria Lopez, an activstfrom the group Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), which works to honor the legacy of Johnson and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera. “What happened is a group of people selected who were the other people, who were important, not the ones that didn’t say what they didn’t want to hear.”
Local resident and horticulturalist Mihalis Petrou told Curbed last week he objected to the “redundant and uninventive” design of the park.
“We could have a nuanced tribute that honors marginalized people by celebrating nature,” Petrou said. “It’s a missed opportunity.”
Following the contentious meeting, construction was halted, but little further information was provided.
“Construction has been halted,” Matthew McMorrow, director of LGBTQ affairs for Governor Andrew Cuomo, said in an email to Lopez and STARR last Friday. However, he provided no further information about how long with construction will be stopped, and what, if any, changes will be made to the highly unpopular park design.