Multiple people were concerned on January 5th when a statue was removed from the memorial at West 2nd Avenue and Fayette Street. All of it was completely unnecessary and was the unfortunate result of poor communication and likely pettiness by the borough.
First, the history and meaning of the statue.
The statue named “The Family” dates back to May 31, 1999, when it was dedicated at the Conshohocken Veterans Memorial (which had been dedicated in 1928) at West 2nd Avenue and Fayette Street in Conshohocken. During the dedication, Gerald McTamney shared that the statue was unusual for a veterans memorial as it didn’t show a soldier in the field, but one returning home to his family. McTamney, who passed away in 2014, was a Marine and a longtime member of Conshohocken’s Borough Council. You can find a video of the dedication here.
On January 4th, the Borough of Conshohocken announced via Facebook the following:
West 2nd Avenue will be closed between Fayette Street and Forrest Street tomorrow (January 5) from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Public Services will be doing work in the area during this time.
On January 5th the statue was removed and MoreThanTheCurve.com received messages and photos from people asking why. We emailed Borough Manager Stephanie Cecco and asked what the situation was and she did not respond. It is our belief that the borough has a policy of not responding with MoreThanTheCurve.com.
On January 6th, this message about repairs was reposted to say that the work would also take place that day. This message was also posted on the borough’s website.
As you can see, the messaging from the borough about the work taking place did not mention the removal of the statue. So once it was gone, the posts and comments on social media started. Below are some examples:
“What happened to monument at 2nd and Fayette?”
“Seriously? Why the hell are we taking history down?”
“Everything has to be even in this new world. It probably offended someone who didn’t have a family like that one.”
“Wow! Are they taking down the whole thing? If they are I will join the protest!”
“Need more space for another condo building”
“If you haven’t noticed this town isn’t what is used to be. Lets just say its gone very woke. “
On January 6th, Walt Hartnett, the leader of the local VFW, posted the following on Facebook:
So I have received numerous calls and messages about the monument at second and Fayette. Borough council has voted to change the layout of the monument. The monument has been in disrepair for many years. I’ve been a borough council myself three times to push for the monument to be fixed. Council came up with these artist, renditions of how the area will be changed. The statue will be put back up. The monument will be restored and be dedicated to veterans. But it will have multiple uses that will hopefully keep the area engaged and allow for future generations to enjoy the monument moving forward. Council has been in communication with VFW throughout this process. Any questions please reach out I’ll give you as much detail as I have.
Hartnett is correct. On September 11, 2022, MoreThanTheCurve.com reported on the plan mentioned by Harnett, and for three other pocket parks in the borough. The plan received almost all positive feedback.
So we find it curious, but not surprising, that this past week the borough wouldn’t have provided more details when they announced the street closure. They could have done this on their own social media pages or by responding to MoreThanTheCurve.com’s inquiry.
Imagine if they had written, “West 2nd Avenue will be closed for two days between Forrest and Fayette Streets as we remove the statue named “The Family” for repairs. This is the first step in bringing a pocket park and renewed memorial to our veterans in downtown Conshohocken.”
The borough council is doing something that people want and instead, the borough’s lack of detail and ability to communicate with MoreThanTheCurve.com in a professional manner led to comments about “removing history” and wokeness.
It was all so unnecessary.