July 11, 2020

Contest to Name Brooklyn Park Lawn Is Halted as It Gets Personal

“Become a part of history and name the lawn at Pier 6!” the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy exhorted on its Web site. “Maybe you have a favorite flower or bird that lives in Brooklyn Bridge Park? Something particularly cool about the view? A little-known fact about local history that deserves some recognition?”

The deadline for submissions was March 20, and the winner would be announced on April 1.

But when a campaign to name the lawn for Chris Hondros, a war photographer from Brooklyn who died two years ago, gathered steam, the conservancy backpedaled. Then on Tuesday, it decided just to call the whole thing off.

“While the idea of naming a lawn in memory of someone is certainly a lovely idea, we’re keenly aware that there are so many deserving and special Brooklyn residents to memorialize, and it felt like naming the lawn for one person isn’t fully representative of that,” said Nancy Webster, executive director of the conservancy, a nonprofit group that supports the 1.3-mile waterfront park.

Mr. Hondros, 41, a senior staff photographer for Getty Images, lived three blocks from the park with his fiancée, Christina Piaia, and was killed in Libya in a mortar attack in April 2011, along with the photographer Tim Hetherington. Mr. Hondros and Ms. Piaia were to be married in Brooklyn in August of that year.

The groundswell of support for the Chris Hondros Lawn started with Patrick J. Whalen, a photo editor at The Wall Street Journal who had worked closely with Mr. Hondros at Getty. Mr. Whalen encouraged supporters to enter the contest. More than 200 did, each suggesting Mr. Hondros as the honoree.

At first the conservancy replied to those suggestions with an e-mail, explaining that the names were meant to be inspired by the topography, or some special feature of the park. Then it canceled the contest.

“We were disappointed that the rules hadn’t been clarified before,” said Ms. Piaia, the executive director of the Chris Hondros Fund, a nonprofit group that supports photojournalism and honors the photographer’s memory, in a phone interview.

But others are not giving up the quest to name a park or special place in New York City in his memory. “I respect their policy,” Mr. Whalen said of the conservancy. “But there are many parks in Brooklyn and all around the city named after people. So I think it’s worth continuing to pursue.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/nyregion/contest-to-name-brooklyn-park-lawn-is-halted-as-it-gets-personal.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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