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Will Greenpoint museum be next victim of city land grab?

Janice Lauletta-Weinmann
The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

While the city turns up the heat on TransGas (see story above), a smaller landowner is feeling the pressure, too.

The Greenpoint Monitor Museum has one acre within the city’s proposed 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park site, a small plot that was donated by a Shell Oil affiliate in 2003. Yet the city wants that acre, too, said Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, the museum’s president.

“There is so much eminent domain abuse going on now … it’s unconscionable that the city would take land from a non-profit museum,” said Lauletta-Weinmann. “For 50 years, it has been vacant and nobody cared about it. We’re hoping that the city will allow us to keep our acre and still build their 27-acre park around us.”

Parks spokesman Phil Abramson said the museum’s plan conflicts with the city’s plan to have a continuous waterfront esplanade in the park.

Parks has asked Lauletta-Weinmann to submit a site plan, and a compromise may yet be reached, Abramson said.

In the meantime, the city is still planning on using eminent domain to take the land. In September, the city condemned two adjacent properties and has plans to do the same with three more parcels surrounding the inlet, including the plot owned by the museum.

The USS Monitor was one of the first iron-clad war ships built by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. It was launched in 1862 from the site now owned by the museum, but was lost at sea later that year.

Lauletta-Weinmann and her husband, George Weinmann, were born and raised in Greenpoint and got their Monitor education as part of their local history studies in grade school. George’s family lived in Greenpoint during the Civil War, he is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and his distant cousin was on the Monitor when it sank.

When the subject of a Monitor museum came up in the early 1990s, Lauletta-Weinmann raised anchor and got a state charter and secured the launch site from an oil company.

“After all that hard work, it would be a shame if we had to relocate,” she said.

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