A Christopher Columbus statue that was in Middletown was temporarily removed earlier this weekend and now Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim is explaining the reasons why.
On Saturday, the city removed a statue of Christopher Columbus that Florsheim said was donated by local, mostly-Italian-American families in the mid-1990s. The statue had been erected at Harbor Park.
According to Florsheim, the statue had been slated to be temporarily moved for a while.
Florsheim said there is going to be maintenance work at Harbor Park next month that requires the removal and storage of the statue. The plan had previously been approved at the last meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
He also said he has received a large number of calls, texts and emails recently pointing out that statues of Columbus are being removed across the state and country both temporarily and permanently.
The people who were contacting Florsheim, he said, told them they would like to see Middletown do the same.
"Of course, there are many in Middletown who want it to stay up, too. To the hundreds of people who were involved in the creation and placement of the statue, it has less to do with the historical figure of Columbus and more to do with their own families' history in Middletown," Florsheim said in a post on Facebook.
According to Florsheim, the city decided to remove the statue a few weeks early before something could happen to it and since it has to be moved anyways.
Florsheim said there is interest in having the statue relocated to a privately-owned site with heritage significant to the Italian-American community.
He said he believes the conversations about the possible relocation of the statue will continue in the coming days.