PARKS REMEMBERS A SOAP OPERA STAR, IMMIGRATION LAWYER, AND AIDS ACTIVIST
Photo by Spencer T Tucker
At 157th Street and Broadway—the gateway to Manhattan’s bustling and beautiful Washington Heights neighborhood—sits a beautiful neighborhood greenstreet. Several years ago, this piece of city property was a grey cement triangle. And until last week, this peaceful green space had no name.
On Friday, March 1, 2002, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gathered with leaders of the Dominican Women’s Caucus, city officials, and the friends and family of Ilka Tanya Payan to name the park in her honor. Payan had a remarkable and varied career. Among the many shoes Payan filled, she was a Spanish-language soap opera actress, an immigration lawyer, a contributing columnist for El Diario/La Prensa, and a champion for immigration causes and AIDS education.
The Dominican-born Payan grew up in New York City and lived here until she died of an AIDS-related illness in 1996. Although Ms. Payan was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, she kept her disease a secret from the public for many years. During that time, Payan continued to dedicate herself to her community by practicing immigration law, writing on immigration issues, and co-founding the Dominican Women’s Caucus, an organization with the goal of empowering women through education-based initiatives. In 1993, when Payan finally brought her illness into the light of day, she continued her public commitment by using her visibility to speak out for AIDS victims and their families and to promote AIDS education.
"We recognize the importance of her commitment to others," said Benepe. "And perhaps we will come a little closer to understanding what motivates each of us to build goals and achieve them." He commended the Dominican Women’s Caucus for their successful lobby of the park’s naming. He also thanked former Council Member Stanley Michels (who was unable to attend) and Deputy Public Advocate Guillermo Linares, also a former Council Member, for the effort they made to write the new name into legislation.
At the ceremony, Honorable Roberto Velez, Chief Administrative Law Judge, read an official proclamation on behalf of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The mayoral proclamation enumerated Miss Payan’s achievements and declared March 1 "Ilka Tanya Payan Day."
Everyone who spoke expressed the importance of remembering Payan’s legacy and of following the examples she set. "The park’s honey locusts, roses and yews will serve as blossoming reminders of Payan’s legacy," noted Commissioner Benepe.
By Eric Adolfsen
TEMPORARY ART INSTALLATIONS IN CENTRAL PARK
Five temporary art installations will be on display throughout Central Park from March 7-26. Organized by the Public Art Fund, these installations are brought to New Yorkers as part of the Whitney Biennial in Central Park. The works, by artists Keith Edmier, Kiki Smith, Kim Sooja, Roxy Paine, and Brian Tolle, feature different materials, themes, and media. This outdoor exhibition is one that promises to be enjoyable for all who venture into the cold weather.
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Wednesday, March 15, 1989)
PARKS HUFFS, PUFFS AND BLOWS WALL DOWN
Parks usually espouses building, not destroying. But before the new goes up, the old must come down. So with a few deft strokes of the sledgehammer, on Tuesday morning Mayor Koch, Commissioner Stern, and guests caused a wall outside the Brownsville Recreation Center on Linden Boulevard and Stone Avenue in Brooklyn to come tumbling down.
The ceremonial wall smashing marked the start of the City’s $7.5 million capital project to restore the recreation center, comprised of three adjoining redbrick buildings. (To help "bring the house down," the J.H.S. 263 band offered renditions of "Soul Rock" and other melodies.")
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The first problem for all of us, men and women,
is not to learn, but to unlearn."