Katz Says She Will Not Try to Restore Controversial Statue

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on January 17, 2014 9:11am 

QUEENS — New borough president Melinda Katz said she is not interested in returning the controversial Triumph of Civic Virtue to its original location, disappointing some local advocates who say the monument belongs in Queens.

The statue, which depicts Hercules with the sirens of Vice and Corruption, had been in Kew Gardens since 1941. It was later denounced by some as sexist and in recent years fell into disrepair.

In December 2012, it was moved to Green-Wood Cemetery, despite protests from a number of local residents and Community Board 9. The site has been vacant ever since, accumulating trash and graffiti tags on the fence surrounding it.

Some advocates vowed to bring the statue back to the site, but Katz said she won't try to restore it.

“I know that the city is planning on doing landscaping there so we have to still see what the plans are,” Katz said Wednesday.

Katz also noted that “there are a lot of ideas in the works.”

One of them, pushed by previous borough president Helen Marshall, is to turn the site into a plaza dedicated to the female leaders of the borough, an idea that Katz favors as well.

Another proposal, she said, is to plant trees there and install benches “to make it a nice passive site for folks to hang out.”

In plans presented to Marshall last year, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) wrote that it “wishes to keep the original fountain as a planted ruin, a scenic backdrop to a busy and important intersection in the borough.”

The design included a sitting area with new pavement, benches and lighting. Various types of grass and groundcovers were proposed as well.

Dan Andrews, who served as Marshall’s spokesman, told DNAinfo New York in December that Marshall “did not like the renderings that were presented to her, because they did not include the women's memorial.”

Local Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said that the site is not her main concern at the moment. “My priorities are seniors and education,” she said. “We don’t know what the budget is going to look like this year.”

It was not clear how much it would cost to build the plaza on the site.

But some local advocates said they were disappointed that the ideas for the site do not include bringing the statue back.

Jon Torodash, who last year ran for City Council as a "Civic Virtue candidate," said that “it’s the borough president’s responsibility to preserve the history and heritage of the borough that she presides over.”

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