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Mayor Walsh is "confident" in city's legal standing on Columbus monument plan

Chris Bolt/WAER News
The Columbus monument sits in a shadow with the county courthouse in the background.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says he’s confident the law is on the city’s side as the future of the Columbus monument awaits a judge’s decision. Supporters of relocating the monument held a vigil yesterday ahead of a court hearing. Walsh says the city has been very careful to follow the process to legally relocate the monument.

"I can't help to feel that it's unfortunate that we're even at this point. We have tried from the beginning to be collaborative, to be inclusive, and that includes the Columbus Monument Corporation. It's because of the Columbus Monument Corporation that we were in court and that we're spending resources to defend ourselves. It wasn't necessary. There's a better way to do it. We can look no further than Buffalo down the Thruway to see how that can be done the right way."

There, the region’s Italian-American federation actually requested the statue be removed so it wasn’t a distraction to the social justice movement, and to protect the monument from vandalism. Walsh says that’s exactly what he wants to do…find an appropriate place to preserve and protect the monument for those who care about it.

"The litigation has absolutely complicated matters, slowed things down, and dragged out the division in this community."

Walsh says he’s not deterred from his plan to relocate the monument and reimagine Columbus circle as a heritage park, but can’t take the necessary procedural steps until the court case is resolved.

"I made the commitment, going through the appropriate process, that the [Columbus] monument is going to continue to focus on celebrating local Italian American heritage and history. The broader public space that we're calling Heritage Park will celebrate a broad diversity of the city, and celebrate other cultures, including the Onondagas."

A decision from the judge is expected sometime next week.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at