The proposal by the Parks Department would add phrases and excerpts from the writings the park's namesake, Commodore John Barry, to existing walls. Known as the “Father of the American Navy,” Commodore Barry did not, however, use terms or spellings that are widely accepted today, which did not sit well with members of the board.
Andrew Lastowescky of the Parks Department called the 10-acre park an important park in the district, but that it needs some renovations due to it's age.
“The public design commission made a strong suggestion that certain signs be added to the park,” he said.
One idea was to utilize existing walls and add Barry's writings, but using colloquial language of the latter half of the 18th century. However, some board members felt that it would end up doing more harm than good.
One woman criticized the spelling of one phrase that was suggested: “Spurned the eyedee of being a treator.” The phrase is a reference to when Barry was offered 15,000 guineas in gold plus a command in the Royal Navy if he would desert the American Navy.
Another board member criticized some of the content of the writings, specifically “Confinement & lashes for the culprits.”
“I don't know why that we want to send that message about Commodore Barry,” she said. “He must have done some other things in the Revolution that were a lot better than that.”
“They are in quotations, anything that's misspelled,” assured Michael Lavery, Parks Development manager for District 2. He said he would bring the complaints of the community board back to the designer.
Despite Lastowescky's plea to board members to finalize the project and allow it to move forward because it was up against a crucial deadline, the signage ultimately caused the board to withhold approval.
One member put forth a motion to eliminate the project altogether and send the Parks Department the minutes from the meeting.
A spokesperson for the Department of Parks and Recreation commented on the decision made by the community board. They said, "We always welcome input from the Community Board about upcoming renovation projects. There continues to be an interest in including an artistic representation of Commodore Barry in the project, and we are currently weighing all options. No money has been lost in this project."