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Construction of Women's Plaza in Kew Gardens to Begin in Fall, City Says

 The memorial, near Queens Borough Hall, will include a plaque dedicated to “the women of Queens.” 
Construction on Women’s Memorial in Kew Gardens to Begin in Fall, City Says
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QUEENS — Construction of a public plaza honoring women near Queens Borough Hall will begin this fall, the city said.

The feature will be in the same spot that the Civic Virtue statue once stood.

But some locals who fought the removal of the controversial sculpture in the first place said they've been left out of the decision-making process regarding what should replace that monument.

The decrepit Civic Virtue statue, which showed Hercules with the sirens of Vice and Corruption, was removed from the intersection of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens, where it spent the past 70 years, in December 2012.

It was later installed and renovated at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, where relatives of the statue's sculptor, Frederick MacMonnies, are buried.

The site where the statue stood has since been occupied by little more than a ruin of an old fountain which once encircled the monument.

In May, the city opened a bid for the proposed plaza and seven companies submitted plans, according to the Department of Design and Construction.

The agency is currently in the process of selecting the winner, the DDC said.

The cost of the project has been estimated as between $500,000 to $1 million, but the city said the final price tag has yet to be determined. 

Construction which, according to DDC, has already been approved by the Public Design Commission, is expected to start in late fall and should be completed in about a year.

The project will “include the restoration of stonework at the base of the fountain as well as added plantings, landscaping and benches for public use,” according to a spokeswoman for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

“The site will soon host a visible, meaningful tribute to the women of Queens and become a public space utilized and enjoyed by all,” the spokeswoman said.

The fountain, which former Borough President Helen Marshall wanted to be revived, will not be restored, city officials said.

It was Marshall who came up with the idea to replace the statue with a public plaza to honor women.

A group of local residents said they were upset that the process to decide what should replace the statue, did not include the community's input. 

The group initially opposed taking away the statue, which was removed after some denounced it as sexist.

“At the very least there should have been an open decision-making process,” said Robert LoScalzo, a Queens activist and filmmaker who said he found out about the bidding process for the new plaza after submitting a Freedom of Information Law request. 

“It’s bad enough that there was never any public process to decide whether the statue should have been removed and now, adding insult to injury, there is no public process to decide what replaces the statue.” 

Lisa Gomes, district manager for Community Board 9, said the board has not been informed about the bidding process. “We have not heard anything about that,” she said. "That's news to me."

The city paid nearly $100,000 to build a custom armature to lift the statue and to cover a portion of the cost of its later renovation at the Brooklyn cemetery.

In addition, the cemetery paid about $165,000 in transportation costs and $27,500 for an expert to supervise the process.