After residents and elected officials protested not one but two proposed sites for the state's essential workers monument, the Battery Park City Authority announced it would form an advisory committee—made up of "local stakeholders, essential workers representatives, and others"—to help determine its placement.

"Over the past two weeks we have heard two things clearly and consistently: the love that our community harbors for its parks and public spaces, and its desire to honor the enduring efforts of essential workers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic," George Tsunis, head of the Battery Park City Authority, said in a statement. "To continue incorporating public feedback into the process, we will put together a new and expanded advisory committee comprised of local stakeholders, essential worker representatives, and others to review options within Battery Park City to select a site and design for a welcome and world-class monument our essential workers so richly deserve."

Those local stakeholders were not involved in the earlier discussions. Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced on June 23rd that the monument would be placed in Battery Park City's Rockefeller Park, noting that the tribute—to be completed by Labor Day—would include an eternal flame.

The decision, made by Cuomo and a "commission of labor leaders," upset residents and local elected officials who emphasized their support and respect for essential workers but offered numerous reasons why placement was flawed—including that children might be hurt by the flame; there are numerous monuments already in the area; it was "not readily accessible by public transportation;" and the monument would take away precious green space. Residents, including children, camped out overnight to prevent bulldozers from razing the ground and taking down trees.

Critics also pointed out that Cuomo was likely putting the monument in Battery Park City because the state controls the land, in an effort to circumvent any process involving public input.

The state backed down from placing the monument in Rockefeller Park—but then caused a new controversy last week when it announced the new location would be near the Irish Hunger Memorial, also in Battery Park City. More outcry ensued from additional lawmakers as well as the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, who said, "Why is the Governor seeking to diminish the contributions of Irish Americans in an attempt to create a memorial to honor the contributions of Essential Workers?"

The group said placing another monument near the Irish Hunger Memorial was "disrespectful."

The Battery Park City Authority's ultimate acceptance of involving stakeholders was welcomed by residents and officials. Rep. Jerry Nadler said, "Today's decision is a clear and decisive victory for Battery Park residents who literally laid their bodies on the line to stand up for their neighborhood, I'm grateful to the Governor and to the BPCA for their willingness to listen to local residents. While we all share in the desire to honor essential workers, it is vital that the process to do so includes public input so that these heroes receive the monument they deserve. I’m proud the Battery Park City community was able to come together to preserve much-loved open spaces. This triumph is theirs."

Nadler had suggested the monument be sited in Elmhurst, Queens, New York City's early epicenter of the pandemic. When asked if he'd travel to Lower Manhattan to see the monument, an Elmhurst resident told WCBS 2, "No. Doing some financial aid to the front workers is better.”

The essential workers monument is now expected to be completed after Labor Day.