Today’s news:

$1.1 million facelift for Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch

Brooklyn’s iconic version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris will soon undergo a $1.1 million makeover.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in the Prospect Park Plaza section of Grand Army Plaza will receive the funds thanks to $1 million dollars from Borough President Marty Markowitz’s FY 2010 capital budget and $100,000 through Councilmember Letitia James.

“I am proud to support projects such as the restoration of the historic arch at Grand Army Plaza, which I like to call Brooklyn’s Piccadilly Circus, Piazza Navona and Arc de Triomphe,” said Markowitz.

“Brooklyn’s community parks and iconic landmarks rival those found in the great cities of the world, and it’s important—especially when it comes to balancing our growing populations in and around Downtown Brooklyn with the need for open space—that we continue to make them greener, greater and grander.”

Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas, whose organization lobbied for the money, noted that the arch is in very poor condition.

“The building hasn’t been pointed in over 25 years and the roof is leaking,” said Thomas, adding that the money will repair those items along with making the interior of the arch more habitable.

Currently, the public is allowed in the arch from time to time, but after the work is completed, the public will be allowed in on a more regular basis, she said.

Prospect Park Plaza was conceived by designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a grand entrance to the Park.

Besides the arch, the area houses the Bailey Fountain and statues of Civil War generals Kemble Warren and Henry Warner Slocum,

For some time, there was also a monument to John F. Kennedy, but that was taken down and is being recast, according to Thomas.

The Prospect Park Alliance is currently housing it, she said.

The arch was designed by John H. Duncan, who also designed Grant’s Tomb, from a field of 36 entries. The cornerstone was laidon October 10, 1889, and President Grover Cleveland presided over the unveiling three years later on October 21, 1892.

Thomas said the Alliance will work on doing the design to the renovation, but the bids for the work will go through the city.

The work should take about a year to complete, she said.

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