The Feds are considering designating Fort Greene Park’s iconic Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument as Brooklyn’s first national monument, and locals can learn what that means for the park and how they can weigh in on the proposal at a public meeting on Jan. 31.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) convinced Congress to approve and fund a study into designating the towering 109-year-old memorial — which honors the 11,000 men, women, and children who died on British prison ships in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War, and still contains some of their remains — a few years back, and it is finally kicking off now.
If it is found worthy of the title, the National Parks Service may take ownership of the whole memorial and full responsibility for its operation and management, according to agency spokeswoman Ellen Carlson.
But monument maintenance is often done in partnership with other organizations, so the city could hang on to it and do the lion’s share of the upkeep, she said.
Some national monuments also score their own federal park ranger, but it is too early to tell if that will be the case for Fort Greene Park, according to Carlson.
The city currently employs an “urban ranger” who educates visitors about the monument and history of the park — which was itself an actual fort during the Battle of Brooklyn — and stops skateboarders from shredding on the shrine, according to Julian Macrone of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy,
The conservancy — a group that helps care for the park and runs events there — still hasn’t taken a position on the national monument idea, and is waiting to hear more about what it will entail, he said.
“You never know exactly what the precise provisions of the designation would include,” said Macrone. “If it comes with an enhanced profile at the national level and preservation of Fort Greene Park and remembrance of the martyrs became a national issue, that certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for the park.”
The Feds’ study will assess the whole monument — including its central “Doric” column, crypt, and the granite staircase leading up to it — and evaluate it on criteria including national significance and the need for federal management.
The results will be submitted to Congress, which will then vote on making it a national monument.
Learn about the study at a public meeting at Shirley Chisholm State Office Building (55 Hanson Pl. at Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene, parkp