NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a monument large enough to define a neighborhood and provide voices for veterans.
But the Soldiers’ and Sailors Memorial in Riverside Park has fallen in such disrepair that emergency action is needed, and it won’t be cheap, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Wednesday.
From afar, the monument shines. It’s a beacon that fits in with the ornate, upscale buildings around it on Riverside Drive at 89th Street.
But if you look closer, its stone, marble and granite are cracked or missing. Graffiti is splashed across it. Weeds have popped up everywhere and there has been an unmissable chain link around it for almost a year now, keeping people out, including neighbor Abby Corrigan.
“I wanted to go and walk and check it out, but I can’t. I can’t go up and look at it,” Corrigan said.
Retired Navy Cmdr. Peter Galasinao said it’s an insult to anyone who every put on a uniform and fought for America.
“It breaks my heart, Galasinaio said. “It’s really quite disgusting. It’s falling apart and, again, this was built to pay homage to the fallen.”
It was back in the year 1900 that Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone.
The last time the monument had any major fix was in the late 1950s, early 60s. Since then, it has been rotting year after year, decade after decade.
“It is a shame,” one woman said.
According to Dan Garodnick of the Riverside Park Conservancy, there is a very hefty estimated price tag of $32 million needed to fix the monument and make it presentable and safe again, CBS2’s Carlin reported.
“We raise funds every year, millions of dollars every year to take care six miles of parkland,” Garodnick said. “It’s well beyond our budget, so we need public sources to step up and deliver what we need to deliver here.”
If City Hall has any plans to step up, no one is saying. CBS2 reached out about it Wednesday afternoon but did not hear back.
Garodnick and others who know how parks budgets work said no money means no plan. And they worry the chain link could be around the monument long enough to rust.
The plaza in front of the monument remains open to the public, so the Memorial Day commemoration can still take place, but not up close as in years’ past.