Green Space advocates say Marsha P. Johnson should have real flowers in her namesake park as tribute
A year ago, the East River Park was renamed the Marsha P. Johnson Park in honor of the LGBTQ rights and HIV/AIDS activist. During her life Marsha P. Johnson made her presence known as a leader at the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, participated in ACT UP, and co-founded both the Gay Liberation and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). When she renamed herself Marsha P. Johnson she said the P stood for “pay it no mind” a phrase she used when someone asked about her gender.
However, now the P may start to stand for “plastic” in the public’s mind if the proposed renovation of her namesake park becomes a reality. Community members feel real flowers would be a more fitting tribute and be better for the environment.
A group of North Brooklyn community members united under the platform of “Stop the Plastic Park” and started an online petition here. “Without action, Marsha P. Johnson Park will be covered with an acre of plastic. The current permeable pathways in black asphalt. Enormous plastic and foam board flowers will block sight lines and river views!”
“This plan covers our precious park in thermoplastic to become a backdrop for drone panoramas and social media posts! The park design must be opened to input from the LGBTQ+ and North Brooklyn communities, prioritizing the experience of nature, the historic fabric of this location, climate change and environmental factors, and to truly celebrate the beauty and spirit of Marsha P. Johnson,” said Kate Yourke in a Facebook post alerting the community that construction on the park began.
The petition addresses some specific environmental concerns, “The impacts of climate change, storm surge, sea level rise and our combined sewage system must be addressed in any design along the North Brooklyn waterfront. Millions spent on infra-structure to mitigate runoff is not the answer. Non-permeable plastic and asphalt surfaces violate the principles of best environmental practices and alter the historic nature of this waterfront park which the North Brooklyn community fought so hard to create.”
There has been little opportunity for community to have a say on this project. The conceived design was presented at January’s Community Board 1 meeting; also at this meeting the community was given less than two-days’ notice that the park would be closed for six-months for the renovation. There has been little transparency on the park’s design selection process and community input or feedback was not sought out.
“Communities design the best parks. Give us the opportunity to help create the best possible redesign for this large tax-payer supported park renovation,” states Stop the Plastic Park. “We are calling on the Governor and NYS Parks to halt construction immediately and reimagine this park design with robust input from the LGBTQ+ and North Brooklyn communities. This design must offer the essential experience of nature we seek from our parks, preserve the historic fabric of its unique location, address climate change and environmental factors, and truly celebrate the beauty and spirit of Marsha P. Johnson.”
Construction reportedly began today, February 17, 2021. If you’d like to halt the construction and add your voice to the petition go to: https://www.change.org/p/governor-andrew-cuomo-stop-the-plastic-park-plant-flowers-instead