SCHENECTADY — A Statue of Liberty replica that was erected in Liberty Park by the Boys Scouts in 1950 is looking for a new home.
Due to construction in that area of State Street, across from the former YMCA, the replica has been put in the city garage on Foster Avenue for safekeeping. But Mayor Gary R. McCarthy expects it to have a new home soon.
"Potential sites are being evaluated, and I'm sure we'll find a place for it soon," McCarthy said. "One scenario has it back in Liberty Park, and other possibilities might be near the police station, the train station or somewhere along Erie Boulevard."
The replica is about 8 1/2 feet tall without its base. It is made of sheet copper and weighs about 290 pounds. The cost of the replica was about $350 at the time it was installed.
When construction workers moved the statue out of Liberty Park in August, they unearthed a time capsule that was buried by the Boy Scouts when the replica was installed.
"It was supposed to be opened in 2000, but it never was," said Joe Berlant, the retired deputy director for development for the city of Schenectady and a former Boy Scout leader. "The Schenectady Council of the Boy Scouts dissolved around 1991 or '92, so the folks immediately involved in the statue and the time capsule had lost track of this."
There were around 200 Boy Scout groups around the country that participated in a program in 1950 to erect Statue of Liberty replicas in their communities. The Schenectady group also put the time capsule — a small box made of sheet copper — under the base of the replica. When officials opened it, the only item inside was a list of Boy Scouts involved in the project.
"It's just a sheaf of papers with some water damage," said Berlant, who has been involved with the Boy Scouts since 1951. "They shared it with me because of my connection to the Boy Scouts and the city, but there was really not much there except the names of the Scouts. We decided it really didn't merit having a ceremony or anything like that."
Berlant has possession of the copper box with the permission of the Boy Scouts' Twin Rivers Council, which oversees 12 counties in upstate New York.
"Right now, the council is not doing anything with the time capsule," Berlant said. "Since I'm kind of an unofficial historian for the Scouts, I'm going to have it for now, and if in the future someone wants to raise some money and have a ceremony with a scout honor guard or something like that, that would be great. But there are no plans to do anything with it now."
Bill Civale, a member of Boy Scout Troop 66 in 1950, said his name is somewhere on those sheets of paper.
"We had around 60 Scouts, all from Goose Hill, and we would meet at St. Anthony's Church," Civale recalled. "I think Scouts from all over Schenectady contributed, but I think most of the work was done by our troop."
Civale said he remembers the day the statue and the time capsule were installed, but only vaguely.
"I don't remember too much about it, but there was some kind of ceremony or dedication," he said. "Our Scout leader, Anthony Nuzback, a very good man, got up and said a few words, and maybe a few others. When I heard about the construction at Liberty Park, I wondered about the statue and the time capsule. I'm glad they're in a safe place and will be back up in the city somewhere. I'm glad they're staying in Schenectady County."
Schenectady was one of six locations in New York that had enough interested and enthusiastic Boys Scouts to order a statue. The other New York locations that put up replicas in 1950 were Hudson, at the intersection of Columbia and Green Street; Le Roy, across from the Woodward Memorial Library on Wolcott Street; Niagara Falls, in the Rainbow Bridge Plaza; Oneonta, in Neawha Park; and Utica, in the median between Elm and Pleasant streets.