BY JON CRONIN
The Queens Borough President’s office announced on Tuesday that a $720,000 restoration on the old fenced in fountain near the former site of the Civic Virtue statue has begun and will rededicated in honor of the women of Queens.
“This restoration project will create a fitting tribute in a prominent location in our borough’s civic center, dedicated to the women of Queens,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “The site will soon host a visible, meaningful tribute to the women of Queens and become a public space utilized and enjoyed by all.”
The fountain, located in the Borough Hall plaza on the corner of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike, will be headed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction. According to the borough president’s office it “will repair the damaged stonework at the base of the fountain, improve landscaping and install plantings, new lighting and benches for public use.” It is anticipated to be finished by Spring 2017 and won’t hinder any vehicular traffic along the busy thoroughfare.
The site is located close to where a statue called Civic Virtue once stood. It featured a nude figure named “virtue,” reminiscent of a Greek god, sword in hand, stomping on two sirens called “Vice” and “Corruption.” The concept is of virtue conquering vice and corruption, but since the statue’s creation, it has been called misogynistic, as virtue is depicted as male, while the two sirens are presented as female. Protests, led by former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Borough President Helen Marshall sought the statue’s removal and for it to be replaced by a work of art celebrating women, but local civic groups, including Community Board 9, opposed it’s removal. In 2012, the statue was moved to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
“We look forward to enhancing the community and contributing to the City’s growth by designing and building a public space dedicated to the women of Queens,” said Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora, commissioner of the DDC.
“I am pleased that that the restoration of this site will include a significant tribute to the people who helped to build and shape our wonderful borough; the women of Queens County,” said City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), one of those who called for Civic Virtue’s movement. “This new public space will now be able to be enjoyed by everyone, and will contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents of our great borough.”
The project was initially announced in January by the DDC to the New York City Public Design Commission. The contractor chose for the project is Prespective Construction Company, which submitted the winning proposal as part of the DDC’s competitive bid process.