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Despite unforeseen delays, the city’s Parks Department said last week the renovation of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park should be completed in time for its centennial celebration in November.
Designed in 1905 and completed in 1908, the monument is a memorial to the 11,000 men, women and children who died in horrid conditions on the British prison ships in Wallabout Bay during the Revolutionary War.
The memorial also houses a tomb with the remains of some of these prisoners.
Parks Department Spokesperson Philip Abramson attributed the delays mainly to the indictment this past spring of Arie Bar, the electrical contractor on the renovation of the work.
Bar and his Brooklyn-based AAR/Co Electrical, Inc. company is charged with defrauding eight employees out of about $350,000 by failing to pay them the mandatory prevailing wages on six public projects, including the monument.
Most of the other public works projects were in Queens and no other ones were in Brooklyn.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the company was paying the workers at rates of $20 to $30 less per hour than the prevailing wages and no benefits.
“However, we are working with the [general] contractor to resolve outstanding issues and are determined to complete this important project in time to celebrate its centennial in November,” said Abramson.
Abramson said among the items that need to be completed include lighting the monument, returning the eagles, touching up the door to the crypt and improving the landscaping.
“The Prison Ship Martyrs monument at Fort Greene park is one of our nation’s historic treasures. This restoration serves as a fitting tribute to the memory of those brave prisoners of war who lost their lives aboard British prison ships during our nation’s fight for freedom in the American revolution,” he said.
Ruth Goldstein, chair of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Centennial Committee, said she is also confident that work will be completed on time.
“We have met with the parks department and have been assured they are on track for early fall completion, and that we certainly believe it’s the will of the parks department to resolve this as quickly as possible,” she said.
Goldstein said the conservancy raised about $350,000 through a grant from the state Dormitory Authority to renovate toe monument.
The monument is located in about the center of the hilly park at about its highest point, she said.
The 30-acre Fort Greene Park is bounded by Myrtle Avenue, Washington Park, St. Edwards Street and Dekalb Avenue.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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