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Columbus monument supporters vow to fight on after latest legal ruling

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media

An appellate court judge in Rochester overturned an earlier ruling about Syracuse’s Columbus monument last week, saying a lawsuit that would prevent the city from removing the statue was premature. The judge added the city had not gone through all the administrative steps needed for approval, yet.

This decision could pave the way for city officials to start the process of creating a new heritage and education site in that location. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he was pleased by the ruling, and said the city will also start taking steps to find an appropriate plan for the monument.

"We have been underway with work on designing a Heritage Park concept across the street at the old Powelson site,” Walsh said. “Now, we're going to be looking back across the street to figure out how we can create a holistic vision for that space."

The Columbus Monument Corporation, a group dedicated to preserving the statue, released a statement Tuesday saying:

“Upon our review of Friday’s Appellate Division decision, we have found issues that need to be reviewed by the Court of Appeals. Our attorney team is working to file papers to perfect that appeal."

The group said the monument is an important part of honoring Italian-American culture. But Walsh said the process is about creating an inclusive space for everyone, including Italian Americans.

"We have a proud Italian American history here in the city of Syracuse and in this nation, and that's one that we want to continue to celebrate and honor,” he said. “But we want to do it in a way that honors the other diverse cultures in this community."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.