EDITORIAL: Lady Liberty’s new home: Try again.

Historic statue needs a more appropriate location than busy street corner.
Lady Liberty at her new home on Erie Boulevard, near Union Street.
Lady Liberty at her new home on Erie Boulevard, near Union Street.

“Oh God, you can hardly see it.”

That was the reaction of one Schenectady native upon leaving the downtown train station Wednesday afternoon after someone pointed out the historic Statue of Liberty replica situated in its new home at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Union Street.

She wasn’t alone in her disappointment.

You’d think with two years to figure out how best to display Lady Liberty, which stood in Schenectady’s Liberty Park for nearly 70 years, city officials would have had plenty of time to appropriately recognize and display the 8-foot-4-inch statue — a donation to the city through the efforts of the Boy Scouts of America back in 1950.

Instead, the final placement seems almost like a dismissive afterthought, that in order to shut up the people who were demanding its return, they just stuck it anywhere, hoping that those who cared about its placement would finally drop it and move on.

Well, the only thing that should move on is the statue itself.

There were so many better locations proposed for it than this.

Some had advocated returning it to its old prominent location in the area now known as Gateway Park, arguing that its return was stipulated in a master plan for the park.

Others had suggested putting it in Steinmetz Park in an area set aside to honor veterans. Or in Central Park, where it could be appreciated by a new generation of visitors and residents.

Frankly, most residents probably would have been OK with any of those choices.

Instead, Mayor Gary McCarthy — without input from the public or the collective City Council — appears to have unilaterally decided to dump it on one of the city’s most cluttered street corners — uncleaned and unimproved — where it’s difficult to see clearly from either side of the five-lane road, against a thick, ugly metal power pole and utility boxes, and in the shadow of an unsightly train bridge at the end of a parking lot.

In its new home, there’s little room around it for people to appreciate it. 

It’s situated as such where it might be a distraction for drivers and where it’s close enough to the corner to where it eventually will get struck by a car or a snow plow and be put out of its misery.

It doesn’t have to end this way.

City officials need to consider this a temporary location and take time to find a more appropriate home for the statue.

Maybe do an online poll like the governor’s doing for our new license plates, or let city residents vote another way. 

Anything’s got to be better than the manner in which this location was selected and where the statue ended up.
Lady Liberty deserves better.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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