RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The debate over where to put a statue honoring Maggie Walker continued Thursday as members of the Richmond Urban Design Committee met for hours to discuss the proposed monument.
A memorial for Walker is planned for Broad Street at Adams Street, but some are concerned that the statue would sit in the shadows of an oak tree at the site. Earlier this year, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones revealed the plans to place a Maggie Walker statue where the oak tree stands.
The monument would be the city’s first to feature a woman of color.
In February, emotions ran high as conservationists protested. They want to see the live oak tree spared, and have called it a rare and giving tree in Richmond’s downtown. They hope the statue and tree can share the triangular site for the plaza, which will serve as a gateway to Jackson Ward and the new home of the Black History Museum at the Leigh Street Armory.
Thursday’s meeting – like others before them – became heated at times during public input when residents were given two minutes to voice their opinions about the statue.
Rubin Peacock lives and works right in front of where the statue will be erected and where Brook Road will be closed down to traffic. He doesn’t mind the statue, but he does have a problem with where it will be placed.
“Well, it got a little heated because today the general public gets two minutes to make a spill about what they think is wrong with the plan.”
Jackson Ward resident Gary Flowers, who wants to move forward with the statue, said he was insulted that people are still arguing against cutting the tree down.
“I like trees, but it’s not about the tree, it’s about a free and clear plaza to honor Mrs. Walker and her legacy,” he said. “The presence of the tree in the historical context of African Americans reminds us of lynching.”
After the morning meeting continued through the afternoon, the Urban Design Committee agreed to approve the conceptual design with a long list of recommendations.
Next, the Public Art Commission will review the plans on Tuesday April, 12th and before the Planning Commission does the same on April the 18th.
Meanwhile, Peacock said he is not giving up his fight.
“No, it’s not a done deal,” he said. “It’s only a done deal when the city planning commission approves it, everything including the budget the finished design,” stated Peacock.
Stay with 8News for continuing coverage of this developing story.