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  • Writer's pictureStaff Reporter

City of Syracuse Plans to Advance Statue Relocation After Appellate Court Victory

Photo: Columbus Monument Corporation

The City of Syracuse and its mayor, Ben Walsh, are prepared to move forward with plans to remove and relocate a monument/statue of Christopher Columbus from its current downtown Syracuse location at St. Mary’s Circle.

On July 28, 2023, the Fourth Department Appellate Division of the New York State Courts handed down a ruling addressing a controversy between The Columbus Monument Corporation (CMC) [and numerous individual persons] and the City/Walsh [and numerous other individuals and organizations] regarding whether the City has legal authority to take down, remove and relocate the statue from St. Mary’s Circle.

A lower court decision made by the Honorable Gerard J. Neri, New York State Supreme Court Justice 5th Jud. Dist., Syracuse denied the City and Walsh the legal right to clear away the Columbus statue and transport it to another location for preservation. The Appellate Division’s ruling reverses Justice Neri’s decision.

Upon reversing Neri’s decision, the Appellate Division stated, among other things, “There is nothing in the plain language of section 8-111 of the City Charter that precludes the City from altering or moving the Columbus Statue Monument.”

“The Appellate Division’s ruling is a win for the whole community. Our goal has always been to create a public space that is welcoming to all and honors Italian American heritage,” Walsh said. “We can do both without holding on to a symbol of colonialism in the heart of downtown Syracuse.”

According to the Appellate Court’s decision, “the Columbus Statue Monument was given to the City in 1934 and placed in St. Mary’s Circle, where it has remained to date. In the early 1990s, the City undertook a restoration of the Monument, fountain, and surrounding plaza in St. Mary’s Circle, assisted in part by a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks).”

The Appellate Court also noted that, “In October 2020, following a series of community conversations facilitated by a non-profit organization and the solicitation of recommendations from an action committee organized by the Mayor regarding the presence of the Columbus Statue Monument in St. Mary’s Circle, the Mayor announced an intention to move forward with the steps required by local and state law to relocate the Monument from St. Mary’s Circle to another site.”

“From my first announcement regarding a path forward for Columbus Circle, I have said we would follow the steps in state and local law,” stated Walsh. “The Appellate Division ruled in favor of the City allowing us to proceed with the established process to create a heritage and education site that celebrates the rich diversity of Syracuse.”


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