Armenian Memorial Spurs Greenway Worry

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff

Boston Globe, MA
May 2 2006

Allowing the proposal could open the door to a rush of competing
political groups and causes.

A proposal to build a park memorializing Armenian genocide victims
on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is rattling neighbors and
conservancy board members, who fear that it would open the door to
an overwhelming number of groups and causes.

The proposal is to put a large sculpture, reflecting pool, and
fountain, and 60-foot-diameter paved labyrinth on the southern end
of the block near Faneuil Hall. It would be the sole feature of the
new Greenway that would honor an ethnic group.

Edwin Schlossberg of New York, a conservancy board member and the
husband of Caroline Kennedy Schloss-berg, granddaughter of Rose
Kennedy, said he is concerned that placing one ethnic memorial on
the Greenway could “pit one group against another.”

“It’s so difficult when you open up the door to consideration about
people wanting to exhibit discrete things on their mind,” Schlossberg
said. “This area was one to be developed without that.”

So far the Greenway has been designed without monuments or memorials.

There is not even a plan for a bust or statue of Rose Kennedy,
namesake of the new corridor of parks along the former Central Artery
highway. She was the mother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator
Edward M. Kennedy, the senior US senator from Massachusetts.

“The Greenway, if possible, should stay true to how it’s been,”
Schlossberg said.

The Greenway conservancy board is scheduled today to see for the first
time the proposed Armenian park, which is being funded by the Armenian
Heritage Tribute and Genocide Memorial Foundation, a group of about
45 Armenian-American churches and cultural groups. The foundation
would also create a $500,000 endowment for maintenance and establish
a separate $500,000 endowment for an annual lecture series to be held
at Faneuil Hall.

Donald J. Tellalian of Tellalian Associates Architects & Planners LLC
of Boston said the memorial would not be dedicated solely to the 1.5
million Armenians who died in conflict with the Turks early in the
last century.

“It will be as universal in its message as possible,” said Tellalian
who led a design committee of 12 from the Armenian-American
community. “This is meant to be celebratory,” Tellalian added
yesterday, recognizing the “immigrant experience for all — not
just Armenians.”

Objections to the memorial concern not only whether a single monument
to an ethnic or national group should find a place on the Greenway,
they also have to do with the unusual process by which the memorial
was proposed and developed.

In 2000, the Legislature passed a brief provision into law directing
the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to study the feasibility of
constructing “a monument to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1922.”

It did not specify a location, but the Turnpike is now formally
proposing the foundation’s design for a parcel of a little less than
one-half acre between Cross Street and Surface Road, near Christopher
Columbus Park.

Other groups that sought Greenway space, including the Boston Museum
Project, went through competitive processes before being designated
and were designed within a public process approved by the Federal
Highway Administration. That included review by the Turnpike Authority,
City of Boston officials, and the community.

The Armenian group’s proposal has bypassed that route and is just
being made public. It was presented Thursday to a meeting of North
End and Wharf District residents.

“The memorial is a wonderful and important idea for our community,”
said Peter Meade, chairman of the conservancy board. “But there
are questions about whether it is consistent with the goals of the
Greenway conservancy, and we have to have a discussion about that
with the proponents.”

State Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, a Waltham Democrat and
proponent of the memorial, said at the meeting that details of the
plan had been purposely kept under wraps until all public officials
were briefed on it.

Fred Yalouris, director of architecture for the Big Dig, called the
land “a public park” and said, “We have proceeded with a very public
process that has been going on five to six years.”

But Rob Tuchmann, cochairman of the Mayor’s Central Artery Completion
Task Force, and others noted that the group, which oversees Greenway
design, has never seen the proposal.

“It is certainly not consistent with the spirit of the requirement
that they include the three parties — including the community —
in the design process,” said Anne Fanton, former executive director
of the Central Artery Environmental Oversight Committee.

Chris Fincham, a resident of Harbor Towers and a close observer of the
years-long design of the Greenway parks, said, “All the other parcels,
the community was involved in the designs from the beginning. This
is an ethnic memorial, and it creates a problem.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino declined comment on the Armenian group’s
proposal or questions raised about it.

The park would almost certainly be the most distinctive feature of the
Greenway, which is under construction and is expected to be completed
in 2007.

The sculpture in the proposed park would be a 15-foot-high
steel dodecahedron, or 12-sided structure, in the form of a large
interlocking puzzle. It would symbolize the 12 provinces of historic
Armenia and the Armenians who died in the conflict early last century.

Tellalian said the structure would be pulled apart as it is installed,
recalling what happened to the Armenian homeland. Each year, with the
assistance of a crane, it would be taken apart again, and reconfigured.

“The immigrants came to this country and began to put themselves back
together again,” he said.

Some in the North End who attended last week’s meeting praised the
proposed park.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the design,” said Nancy
Caruso, a North End community leader. “The problem is with the
process. I think what everyone’s objecting to is having it pushed
down our throats.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS