A Fort Greene luminary’s plan to light a neighborhood statue — in much the same way he lighted iconic treasures like the George Washington Bridge and Washington Square Arch — has fallen through the gaping cracks of city bureaucracy.
Domingo Gonzalez, a Brooklyn Tech alumnus, and South Oxford Street resident, worked with the Fort Greene Association about three years ago to cast light on the statue of Gen. Edward Fowler in the European-style plaza at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street that serves as the de facto gateway to the neighborhood.
Why light the statue?
“When we light our structures and monuments, sometimes we see them for the first time,” said Gonzalez. “I wonder how many people in Fort Greene know there’s a statue of Fowler in that little park.”
Or, for that matter, know that Fowler was the Civil War commander of the 14th Regiment of the New York State National Guard, based in what is now Fort Greene Park — and was for decades a revered Fort Greene resident.
To underscore his point, Gonzalez told a story about the time he lighted the Holland Tunnel’s vent tower.
“About two weeks after, the client got a phone call from an irate community board member, saying, ‘You can’t build a building wherever you want,’” recalled Gonzalez. “He said ‘Lady, the vent tower has been there since 1927.’ She said, ‘Oh. I didn’t know that.’ And then she hung up.”
Gonzalez wanted to highlight the once-beloved Gen. Fowler in much the same way (minus the angry phone calls). His simple design (above) was well-received by the Fort Greene Association. Association member Ruth Goldstein then hosted Parks Department and Department of Transportation officials.
“It went very well, and everything was supposed to go forward swimmingly,” said Goldstein. “The problem was that DOT and Parks needed to coordinate, and it’s been hard to get that situation working.”
It doesn’t look like anything will happen soon: In an uninformative joint statement, the two agencies said, “Parks and DOT are working together on this, but don’t have specifics to release at the moment.” A call to the Parks Department for clarification was referred back to the statement.
So for now, Fowler’s status remains in the dark.