Volume 74, Number 44 | March 09 - 15, 2005

Organizers report progress on long-delayed AIDS memorial

By Amanda Kludt

After almost a decade of anticipation, members of the AIDS Monument Committee say the plans for the AIDS memorial in Hudson River Park are finally coming together. They have a site, a design, an architect, and city approval, and according to the head of the committee, Lawrence Swehla, the memorial could be finished in a year and a half.

While the project has been called stalled and slow in the past, members of the committee say the memorial plans took such a long time because everyone on the committee worked on a volunteer basis, and because it took a long time to get approval from City Hall and to come to an agreement about the site.

The memorial site is planned for Pier 49 at Bank St. in the Hudson River Park, and will be a about 36 feet high arched stone with a quote engraved on its face. The quote will read: “I can sail without oars/ I can sail without wind/But I cannot part from/my friend without tears.”

“We’re in a position to go,” said Swehla. The committee plans to put out a pamphlet next month explaining the nature, design and costs of the memorial. So far, since the project’s inception about a decade ago, the group has raised $12,000 - $13,000. “We have a few thousand in the bank. We’ve not spent a dime,” said Swehla. However, the group expects it needs to raise about $150,000 for the project. Swehla says he’s not worried, commenting, “If they can spend $1 million on that puff of smoke coming out of 14th St., I think we’ll be fine.”

While this may sound like progress to some, Don MacPherson head of the Community Board 2 Waterfront Committee says, from the community’s point of view, the project has been at its current stage for the last eight months. According to MacPherson, C.B. 2 passed a resolution six to eight months ago allowing the memorial committee to move forward with their plans. “Everything has been cleared,” MacPherson said. “We’ve done everything we can do.”

Chris Martin, spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust, said he is waiting for the group to finish its fundraising brochure.

Swehla insists the plans are moving forward and that visitors will appreciate the memorial’s site and design. “It’s really lovely where we’re situated,” he said, noting the design “couldn’t be more elegant.”

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