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Sea Cliff peace monument creates controversy

The peace monument, designed by Megan Sirianni-Brand, now

The peace monument, designed by Megan Sirianni-Brand, now stands in the artist's yard. The monument was relocated to there on Dec. 2 from the John Burns Village Green and will remain there until the Sea Cliff Village Board selects a new location for it. (Dec. 4, 2011) Photo Credit: Ann Luk

Phil Como wanted a 4-foot peace monument moved out of the John Burns Village Green as soon as it appeared there in early November.

“It doesn’t belong there, the park is supposed to be pristine,” said Como, a longtime friend of Burns, the former mayor for whom the village green is named.

The Sea Cliff Village Board listened to community members’ complaints and had the peace monument moved this month to the artist’s home.

“When there are three or four people complaining at the town meeting and not a lot of other people are there to defend it, you have to do something,” said Jon Mirando, the Sea Cliff Village administrator.

The monument was a gift to Sea Cliff from local artist Megan Sirianni-Brand.

“I’m so upset,” said Brand, when the controversy began. “I wasn’t able to work on my other projects for two weeks.”

In September, the monument was displayed in the library so patrons could select a language in which they would like the word “peace” engraved. It was moved outside in early November because it was a tight fit. Village officials agreed to place it in the open area so that visitors could walk around it and think of peace.

“We were afraid someone would accidentally knock it down or knock into it,” said Arlene Nevens, director of Sea Cliff Library.

It stands 4 feet tall and 4 inches wide, with a pyramid-like top. So far the word “peace” has been engraved in English, Hebrew and Swedish/Norwegian.

James W. Foote, an actor known for appearances as Theodore Roosevelt at local events, is another resident who opposed the statue’s placement.

“The placement is wrong,” said Foote, 63, who often drinks his coffee at the village green.

He agrees with the message of peace but feels that the Centennial Garden would be a better place for the monument.

Other residents disagree.

“It reminds me of the Washington Monument and patriotism,” said Tim Ayres, 53, of Sea Cliff.

The monthly engraving of the word peace in another language has been postponed until a decision is made about the monument's permanent location.

According to Mirando, the Village Board will have a closed discussion on the issue, but a new location for the monument has not been determined.

“If it has to be moved, then it’s fine,” said Brand, “as long as it’s not hidden away in some corner.”

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