The former site of the “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue continues to lay dormant outside of Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, with little in the way of development planned.
Plans to turn the area near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike into a pedestrian plaza honoring historically important Queens women were in development even before the statue was taken down and moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn last December. Since the statue’s removal, the fenced-in site has become a target for graffiti and controversy.
The walkway inspired by influential Queens women is still the desired idea being floated around in the halls of the Borough President’s Office, according to Borough President Helen Marshall’s press officer Dan Andrews, but neither a list of women being honored nor a final design for the promenade has been agreed upon yet.
“A design had been proposed by the Parks Department, but Helen did not like it and she asked for another idea,” Andrews said. “We do know we want to honor important women in Queens, but names are still being thrown around.”
A second design was supposed to be presented to Marshall at a meeting scheduled for two weeks ago, but that meeting was postponed. According to City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), that session will not be rescheduled until after next month’s election of a new borough president.
“We’re getting a new borough president so we want them involved,” Koslowitz said. “We’ll be changing administrations so the meetings regarding the statue will take place after the election.”
The 22-ton “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue, a sculpture of Hercules standing atop two sirens to represent virtue defeating vice, was created by Frederick MacMonnies and given to the city in 1922. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia disapproved of the statue and moved it from City Hall to Queens in 1941, where it stood outside Queens Borough Hall until its removal in December 2012.
Koslowitz said she did not know how much the construction of a pedestrian plaza will cost, but she is excited about what might become of the site.
“My plan is to have some kind of park with benches and something there dedicated to women since the statue was a put down to women,” she said. “We would want to honor famous people who contributed to Queens, like Geraldine Ferraro for instance.”
City Council candidate Jon Torodash says that he does not know the exact nature of the plans regarding the site, but he accuses the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the Design Commission of potentially withholding items pertinent to the statue’s removal in an ongoing Freedom of Information act lawsuit.
“Both DCAS and the Design Commission from the outset have tried to withhold records illegally, ignore state-mandated requirements for disclosure deadlines, and obstruct citizens’ right to know the truth,” Torodash said. “We will continue to relentlessly pursue this matter until the full truth comes out. The ideals of Civic Virtue demand nothing less.”