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Monitor Museum gets $600K for new park

Anchors aweigh! Greenpoint Civil War buffs score cash for Naval museum

Navy yard: The Greenpoint Monitor Museum will turn its acre of land along the East River into an idyllic community greenspace, complete with an educational boardwalk full of information on the USS Monitor warship.
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Break out the bubbly — then smash it against a boat!

A Greenpoint couple say their decades-long dream to clean up a stretch of waterfront property and build a museum celebrating a local Civil War ship on the site may finally set sail thanks to a recent cash injection.

“It’s something we’ve worked on for a long time, and finally something is working out nice for it,” said Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, who has been championing the museum with her husband George for nearly two decades.

Neighborhood residents recently elected to pump almost $600,000 into helping the duo finally start building their long-promised Greenpoint Monitor Museum — named for the U.S.S. Monitor, one of the first iron-clad war ships built by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, which was constructed and launched near Quay and West streets in 1862 before sinking later that year.

The moolah comes from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund — a State reserve created from money ExxonMobil had to cough up after spilling some 30 million gallons of oil into the Newtown Creek.

Hundreds of community members voted in favor of assigning some of that money to the museum in November, alongside hundreds of thousands shelled out to other neighborhood enterprises.

The Greenpoint-raised couple first dreamed up the museum in 1996 as a way to teach newer residents about the history of the boat, on which one of George Weinmann’s distant cousins sailed.

Without a permanent home for their history repository, they have been taking their artifacts and lessons around to local schools, and have also staked out a classroom space at Greenpoint’s PS 110.

The couple scored an acre of waterfront land at Bushwick Inlet in 2003, and have been working toward planting the museum there ever since.

The money — plus another $200,000 from private investors — will go towards turning that land into a community green space called U.S.S. Monitor Park.

The Weinmanns say they’ll flood-proof the decaying shoreline, create a living habitat for river critters, and post up signs explaining history of the beloved boat.

The landscaping will pave the way for the brick-and-mortar museum the couple dreams of eventually building there, said Lauletta-Weinmann.

“It’s the first step, and it’s an important first step,” she said. “You can’t just put in a building and have everything start falling down around it.”

Locals say any more green space in the park-starved nabe will be a welcome addition.

“It will be an amazing contribution to our neighborho­od,” said Katherine Thompson of community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, which is pushing the city to uphold its promise to create more parkland nearby.

Locals also elected to put money from the oil-spill fund towards creating a community garden and urban farm in McCarren Park, more renovations for McGolrick Park, and building a roof-top bird habitat along the Newtown Creek.

Check out the full list of winners here. And see a breakdown of the community voting results here.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Posted 3:18 am, December 17, 2015
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