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Department of Parks & Recreation

Tuesday’s Headlines: The Circus Really Did Come To Town (And Rep. Malliotakis Made an Appearance) Edition

12:03 AM EDT on April 18, 2023

Lorenzo Pace, who created the “Triumph of the Human Spirit” monument in Foley Square, can’t believe his eyes. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

As predicted, the House Judiciary Committee field hearing in Lower Manhattan was a political sideshow inside and a clusterf**k of history outside. And Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) stopped by to make everything oh so much worse.

Streetsblog's previous coverage. Click to read.
Streetsblog's previous coverage. Click to read.
Streetsblog's previous coverage. Click to read.

Dr. Lorenzo Pace, who created the "Triumph of the Human Spirit" statue on the plaza in Foley Square as a monumental complement to the federal African Burial Ground memorial nearby, visited on Monday morning to find his shrine once again desecrated by automobiles of the media and by a Parks Department that not only doesn't maintain the monument or the plaza on which it sits, but simply does not respond to questions about same.

We seem to be the only ones covering this outrage, but so be it: No other monument to such a catastrophic epoch of history would be treated this way.

"It's the worst I've ever seen it!" he screamed as he walked over to his monumental black-granite work. Not only were reporters' cars again filling the plaza, and cracking its paving stones, but the statue itself was covered in debris including a beer can, garbage, soiled toilet paper, a manhole cover and bricks. "They don't give a shit. I'm really shocked. We're right in front of the Thurgood Marshall building [a federal court] and the David Dinkins building [the city Municipal Building]. I hate to see it like this. I get depressed."

You will, too:

He looked at the cracked pavement around the monument.

"This is the Parks Department's fault. It's their baby," he said. "And you're supposed to take care of your baby."

Almost too good to be real, a man came over to commiserate with Dr. Pace and a Streetsblog reporter about the condition of the memorial only to learn that he was talking to its creator.

"What the fuck is going on around here?" asked the man, Mark Key. He said he worked in the area and had never seen the plaza so decrepit.

"And this is on the site of the first Wall Street!" Key said. "You know what I mean when I say, 'The first Wall Street, right? You know what the very first stock was? We were the first stock, sir! And this is how they treat the memorial. This is disgusting."

Mark Key thanks Lorenzo Pace for his work.
Mark Key thanks Lorenzo Pace for his work.
Mark Key thanks Lorenzo Pace for his work.

He was so angry that he flung the beer can onto Lafayette Street. Then he took a picture of himself with Pace.

The artist was still mourning his master work when lo and behold, Malliotakis drove up and parked right next to it. Pace didn't recognize her, but immediately asked why she had the temerity to park next to the monument.

"They told us to park here," she said, indicating no one.

Pace showed her how the monument had been defiled. She told him to call the City Council member for the district, whose name she did not provide. Then she walked off. We ran her plate — not only was she contributing to the defacement by driving on the plaza, she's contributing to even worse by driving at all; her car has gotten 27 speeding tickets and six red-light tickets, mostly in her Staten Island district, since 2020, according to city records. Thirteen of those speeding tickets have occurred since Jan. 6, 2022.

Pace confronted Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (blue dress) about why she parked on the plaza next to his monument.
Pace confronted Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (blue dress) about why she parked on the plaza next to his monument.
Pace confronted Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (blue dress) about why she parked on the plaza next to his monument.

Speaking of driving, we ran the plates on all the media cars on the plaza and found that the parking entitlement is a gateway drug to other kinds of anti-social entitlement. Of the 27 cars with New York press plates, only two didn't have any speeding or red-light tickets. And 21 of them — or 78 percent! — had multiple moving violations.

Boy, you give people free parking and suddenly they think they're first responders or something.

That 78 percent rate of multiple movers is even worse than police officers — whose driving records, Streetsblog previously reported, are twice as bad as members of the public.

So, as we said, what a shitshow. What a disgrace.

In other news:

    • The Daily News offered hearts and flowers on Katherine Harris, the Brooklyn woman killed by a reckless, allegedly drunk, driver on Atlantic Avenue on Sunday, but Streetsblog's coverage offered statistics about the roadway that should remind all decision-makers that crashes like these are not "accidents" but results. The Brooklyn Paper played it halfway.
    • Overnight truck parking continues to plague residential areas. (NYDN)
    • Like Streetsblog, Gothamist also covered the Council's e-bike battery swap hearing, albeit with a lede that came right out of a freshman community journalism class.
    • Are there already right-of-way problems for Mayor Adams's proposed Harlem River Greenway? (Bronx Times)
    • Bronx families victimized by road violence are urging the state legislature to pass "Sammy's Law" as part of the overdue budget. (Welcome2TheBronx)
    • Thankfully, Christopher Robbins is still on Sandwichgate. (Hell Gate)
    • Finally, we tweeted on Monday about a fairly tepid street redesign for Staten Island and asked Council Member Joe Borelli what he thought of the fairly basic painted bike lane and road diet. His answer was more than telling about the Republican minority leader's feelings about safer streets for his constituents:

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