Designer hopes to honor those buried on Hart Island through art installation

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Hart Island, owned by the Department of Correction, has about 1,000 people buried on it a year. And as it is on the cusp of new ownership, a New York City-based designer is hoping to add an artistic installation to honor those buried there.

Designer John Beckmann first learned of Hart Island 10 years ago and has been fascinated ever since. Potter's Field, located on the island, is where those who are unidentified or unclaimed are buried. It's also available for families who cannot afford to bury their relatives.

As the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation gains ownership over Hart Island, which is located off the most eastern part of the Bronx, Beckmann wants to raise awareness for the more than 1 million people buried in trenches there. He plans to do so through a tribute of light -- a light beacon similar to the one used in remembrance of the September 11 attacks every year.

"You don't want to necessarily build something there, build some permanent memorial," Beckmann said. "So, I thought the idea that something more ethereal would be more appropriate."

Hart Island will be more accessible when the Parks Department gains ownership, sources say. And though he hasn't submitted the idea to the Parks Department yet, he told News 12 that putting the design out there is the first step to shine a different light on Hart Island.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office told News 12 that they will review any formal proposals they receive and will make sure to take environmental concerns into account as well. NYC Parks is set to gain ownership of the island in about a year and a half.



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