Groups fight for future of Civic Virtue

The city is considering what to do about Triumph of Civic Virtue, the controversial statue that sits outside Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
By Joe Anuta

The nude man standing outside Queens Borough Hall has become one of the most talked about people in the borough.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) held a press conference last week calling on the city to sell the dilapidated Triumph of Civic Virtue statue that sits along Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens because they said it is sexist.

But city officials in the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which owns the statue, seem perplexed as to how exactly that should be done.

“We’ve received the congressman’s suggestion and we’re viewing it,” said Mark Daly, a spokesman for the department. “In my memory, we haven’t dealt with selling a statue or the suggestion of selling a statue. We’re researching on exactly what can happen.”

Weiner has been soliciting private investors for the controversial statue, which depicts a man standing on two sirens who represent “Corruption” and “Vice,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Weiner could not be reached for comment, but during the Feb. 25 press conference said “It doesn’t represent virtue. It represents an eyesore.”

The congressman even took out an advertisement on Craigslist — twice.

“Own a (tasteless) piece of New York City history!” the ad read.

It has been taken off of the site both times.

Even if it wanted to, it is uncertain how the city can actually dispose of the statue.

But Weiner’s public crusade to remove it from city property has has both helped his cause and backfired.

On one hand, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn has offered to take the statue from the Kew Gardens location.

Richard J. Moylan, president of the cemetery, primarily wants to see the statue restored, but said that he would provide it with a home if need be.

“Should, however, the city decide to move Civic Virtue, Green-Wood Cemetery has offered — and would be honored — to provide a home for this magnificent statue on a long-term loan basis,” he said. “We have also offered to raise funds for its prompt restoration.”

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall would like to see the statue restored, according to a spokesman. But at an estimated $2 million price tag, she said that the funds were not available.

One Kew Gardens resident even appealed to Donald Trump for help restoring the marble fountain, a spokeswoman for the tycoon confirmed. However, Trump has yet to consider the resident’s proposal.

Either way, Mary Ann Carey, district manager for CB 9, is happy that the neglected statue is finally in the limelight, even if it did have to pass through Craigslist first.

“It’s an absurd idea. The city doesn’t just auction off its property.” she said. “Then who would you ask about selling the Brooklyn Bridge?”

Carey has been trying to restore the statue for the last decade, and said she hoped the added attention will finally spur some action.

“Somebody from the community should start a nonprofit where they could raise money to put towards restoring this monument,” she said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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