A Nassau County park has been dedicated to Luis Alvarez, the cancer-stricken NYPD detective who in the months before his 2019 death became the face of the movement to secure permanent health and death benefits for thousands of 9/11 first responders.
The former Terrell Avenue Park in Oceanside, located less than half a mile from the Alvarez family’s home, is also being revitalized with the aid of a $350,000 investment from Nassau County. Groundbreaking on the project took place on October 19, on what would have been Alvarez’s 55th birthday.
Detective Luis G. Alvarez Memorial Park will be a place of reflection, with areas for meditation, yoga, picnics and other activities, according to his widow, Alaine Parker Alvarez. “This park is very special in a lot of ways,” she said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “A place where you can come to stay in the moment. And not think about the future or the past and just enjoy life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never promised.”
Among the key parts of the park is a clock tower near the meditation area with a face that replaces the 12 numerals with the word “Now,” as encouragement for visitors to focus less on time and more on what’s right in front in them, according to Brian Schneider, Nassau’s deputy county executive for parks and public works.
Alvarez joined the NYPD in 1990 and went on to become one of the thousands of first responders sorting through the rubble in the aftermath of the attack, breathing in toxins that caused the cancer that would eventually kill him.
Alvarez was a staunch advocate for the rights of 9/11 first responders. Just two weeks before his death, he testified before Congress alongside television personality Jon Stewart, to push for the permanent reauthorization of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. President Trump signed the reauthorization into law on July 29, 2019, exactly one month after Alvarez died.
The reauthorization bill, like his hometown park, also bears Alvarez’s name. The full title of the legislation is “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
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