Push to revamp WWII memorial

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A push to breathe new life into the musty World War II Memorial at Cadman Plaza Park is being aired about town.

Members of the Brooklyn War Memorial Museum Committee, chaired by former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, said that they have been collecting “statements of support” from dozens of borough veteran groups interested in their plans to change the focus of the memorial, which almost no one used to pay homage to the nation’s veterans this past Memorial Day Weekend.

Committee members would like to see the memorial converted into a museum that would pay tribute to not just World War II veterans, but to all Brooklynites who have fought for our nation as far back as 1776.

At the same time, they hope that the new memorial will be a meeting place for veterans groups as well as a spot where disabled servicemen and women can receive services.

“That’s our hope,” said committee member Mike Armstrong. “We don’t just want it to be a place to tell the story and it’s never been a batter time to get this process rolling, since the public conscious has been raised about our military men and women and what a sacrifice it is to serve.”

“It’s just not about the people who died in war,” he said. “The people who gave a piece or portion of their lives for this country deserve both recognition and support.”

Armstrong said that the New York City Parks Department, who currently maintains the site, as well as the Brooklyn Historical Society, Borough Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and other city officials have shown an interest in the project.

Private companies such as National Grid have also made a pledge to lend their support, he said.

The monument at Cadman Plaza Park, bounded by Cadman Plaza East and West and Tillary and Johnson streets, was based on then Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’s desire to create unified World War II monuments for each borough.

In the end, Brooklyn was the only borough to build such a monument, which was dedicated in November 1951.

Even then, the city didn’t have enough funding to embrace the entire scope of the memorial’s initial designs.

What currently stands in Cadman Plaza Park is actually a scaled back version of what was planned, historians said.

While the memorial was used by community groups in the beginning, it was mostly forgotten about in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the Parks Department used the site mostly for storage.

Armstrong said that before it could be used for a museum, the memorial will need a major rehab and upgrade.

Architectural students from City Tech are currently preparing to conduct a preliminary survey of the site to see just how much work needs to be done to ensure that the building fits the committee’s needs.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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