JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Transforming Jersey City's Exchange Place Plaza into a modern park with green space and a children's playground has placed a statue at the heart of a heated debate.
"This statue represents 22,000 murdered Polish soldiers, our Polish fallen heroes from the Second World War," said attorney Slawek Platta.
But under the new plans, the monument and its dramatic statue would be moved to another location, according to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.
"We never intended to keep it in storage," said Fulop. "Our plan was to move it to somewhere else in the city and store it prominently and nobody ever thought it would get to this point."
This has drawn outrage from those in the Polish community, including Platta, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at keeping the statue where it is.
"Now we stand united as Polish people to defend this monument," he said. "It is of historical value to us."
Along the waterfront plaza, the statute has been gazed at for 30 years. Those passing it Thursday night and seeing the plans have started to form opinions.
"I heard he wants to relocate it down the street too potentially," said one man. "That would be fine for like a secondary solution but it's definitely been a part of the Jersey City scene down here."
"It should be kept as it is or you can modify it, but it's a memory and memories should be kept like that," said another man.
The statue debate has now found its way into legal courts, with both sides determined.
"He has to have a dialogue with the community. Would we agree to move this from here? I don't think so," said Platta.
Mayor Fulop believes a resolution can be found. "We will come to some sort of agreement on what the next location is," he said. "I have a meeting next week with some of the officials from Poland. So I think we will get to a reasonable place."
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Controversy over proposal to move Jersey City statue commemorating Polish massacre