Last Wednesday evening, the museum organizers and engineers from the firm AECOM hosted a public information session to update the community on the project design, which is expected to be complete by 2019.
According to Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, the museum’s president, the Greenpoint Monitor Museum was awarded $599,200 by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF) for the design phase of the shoreline restoration project.
“The shoreline, especially after Sandy and over many years, is getting deteriorated,” Lauletta-Weinmann said. “We’re losing more and more of our land.”
The idea for the Monitor Museum came out of the Greenpoint 197-A plan, which was developed decades ago by Community Board 1 to plan for the future of the waterfront. The museum, which was chartered by New York State in 1996, still does not have a physical building to call its own.
The USS Monitor was a Civil War-era, iron-hulled steamship that was built on the Greenpoint waterfront. It was known for its revolving turret, which was duplicated on several other war ships, and its famous battle with the CSS Virginia.
In 2003, Lauletta-Weinmann and her husband, George Weinmann, approached the property owners at 56 Quay Street, who eventually donated the land to the museum.
But for 12 years, the Monitor Museum fought off the city’s attempts to use eminent domain to acquire the land for Bushwick Inlet Park. They eventually found an ally in the borough president’s office, which interceded to get the city to “back off,” Lauletta-Weinmann said.
In 2016, the city purchased the remaining parcels of land needed to complete the contiguous 27-acre park. But during that fight, Lauletta-Weinmann said the shoreline worsened, and the Monitor Museum couldn’t do anything to stop it.
In 2015, GCEF awarded the grant to the Monitor Museum to assess shoreline stabilization and flood protection methods, continue its education programs, and prepare documents for future construction of the ecological shoreline.
“We’ll get the construction drawings to actually build the waterfront site,” Lauletta-Weinmann said. “That’s the first stage.”
In the meantime, the Monitor Museum continues to provide history education for the community, including its “Roadshow” project at PS 110 and upkeep of the USS Monitor trail markers.
AECOM engineers described the existing site conditions, which include underperforming ecology, rising sea levels and erosion along the entire shoreline. The soft soil at the site creates geotechnical challenges for any future museum.
To address this, their proposed design for the shoreline thus far features elevating the site, adding two feet of clean fill to bring it up to public access standards, creating “rip rap armorning” to protect against future waves and storms, and planting a native seed mix at the site.
AECOM is now taking public comment on the design, which will be reviewed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Greenpoint Monitor Museum is still far from creating their own site and restoring the shoreline, but the Weinmann family is slowly working toward their dream.
George Weinmann, vice president of the museum and the commander of the local chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, said his ancestor is Grenville Weeks, who served as acting assistant surgeon on the USS Monitor when it sunk.
He hopes to keep his ancestor’s memory and the history of the Monitor alive for future generations.
“Eventually we can have a museum there for the children to come,” Weinmann said. “Even grownups, too.”