GREENWICH VILLAGE — The public park proposed for a triangle of land formerly owned by St. Vincent's Hospital should include a memorial in recognition of the AIDS epidemic, the group promoting the plan says.
The Queer History Alliance, which was founded in January by urban planners Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, says the development of the St. Vincent's Triangle at Seventh Avenue between Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build an AIDS memorial in the Village.
"Symbolically, St. Vincent's was the Ground Zero of the AIDS epidemic," Tepper said Wednesday.
"New York has no significant memorial to the epidemic, though 100,000 people have died," Tepper said. "The people who died and their caregivers and advocates should be recognized in a beautiful, meaningful way."
"A design competition would give residents more than a plan they could say 'yes' or 'no' to," said Tepper, 29, who is the director of development and planning at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
Rudin Management presented plans at a Community Board 2 meeting Sept. 7 for a 15,000-square-foot park for the triangle. The park would satisfy land use requirements in Rudin's pending application for development of a medical complex and condominiums on the St. Vincent's site.
What is ultimately done with the land will be decided through a public process that is ongoing.
Tepper says the Rudin plan and an AIDS memorial could co-exist.
"There's not really a conflict between building a beautiful, usable public park and having a memorial component," he said.
Tepper said he and Kelterborn, 33, who is a planning associate at the Municipal Art Society of New York, have discussed the project with Rudin Management.
Rudin Management said in a statement Thursday that they are evaluating multiple proposals for memorial components of the proposed park.
"We have received great feedback through the community review process and are studying many ideas of how to memorialize the history of St. Vincent’s, the Sisters of Charity who founded the hospital in 1849, the institution’s role in serving people impacted by HIV/AIDS, 9/11, the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy and the survivors of the Titanic," a spokesman said.
A growing list of organizations support the creation of the AIDS memorial, including AIDS prevention and care organization GMHC, the LGBT synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and Housing Works, according to the alliance. The group is sponsored by, and has nonprofit status through, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Tepper said.
The Village has one AIDS memorial at present: a 42-foot-long granite bench in Hudson River Park near W. 11th St. that was dedicated in November 2008.
“I can sail without wind, I can row without oars, but I cannot part from my friend without tears," the monument reads.
Tepper and Kelterborn are scheduled to present their proposal at Community Board 2 meetings on Oct. 5 and Oct. 18, Tepper said.
They say the memorial would help bridge a growing disconnect between LGBT people and their allies who lived through the AIDS epidemic and younger generations.
"If we had been born 30 years earlier, all of our friends could be dying," Tepper said.