JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A statue dedicated to Polish soldiers massacred in Russia during World War II is sparking controversy in Jersey City.
The Katyn Memorial has been a fixture in the city for decades, with the ever-changing Manhattan skyline behind it.
“This is a monument, which I think the Jersey citizens of all stripes and colors should be proud of, that is testifying to a real, great sacrifice that was made during the Second World War,” said Maciej Golubiewski, consul general of the Polish Embassy in New York.
The memorial commemorates the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish soldiers in 1940.
Some hope the statue will return, even after it’s taken down temporarily for an Exchange Place Plaza park project.
“Everyone who’s coming to visit us, we always gave them a tour,” Maria K said.
The statue is going to be placed in storage over the next couple weeks and will stay there over the next year until the project is done. After that, the mayor says it’s going to be up to the people of Jersey City to decide where it goes.
“I’m not going to pigeon hole myself and say unequivocally it will end up here, because that’s going to be driven by people who live here,” said Mayor Steven Fulop.
Some people say they’re ready to see it go away for good.
“You got two elements of disaster going through the body of a human being. That’s horrifying, that’s crazy,” William Murphy said.
The mayor said the 34-foot statue was never designated for that location to begin with.
“We’re building a major park and energizing the entire waterfront for residents that live here. So this is in the public’s interest and we’re not going to be dictated to by the people in Poland,” he said.
The landmark that some have grown pretty used to could disappear from the New Jersey skyline forever.
The mayor said the decision on where the statue will go won’t be made until the park project is almost complete.