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Peekskill Officials Discuss Plans for Sculptures on Riverfront Green

The Peekskill Common Council plans to reach out for for sculpture proposals, including those inspired by the "Wizard of Oz," for the southern section of the Riverfront Green. The sculptures would be part of a list of state funded improvements

There are no lions, tigers or bears on Peekskill’s Riverfront Green.

 And, if the right proposal comes along, there may not even be any sightings of lost girls from Kansas, brainless scarecrows or heartless tin men in the foreseeable future.

The Peekskill Common Council discussed plans to place sculptures on the Riverfront Green South as part of a number improvements to the city’s waterfront that are being funded through an $8.3 million Empire State Development Corp. grant during Tuesday’s board workshop.

 Acting city Manager Brian Havranek suggested Wizard of Oz themed statues along the waterfront to answer the desire of community members to have landmarks connecting the city’s history to the popular movie and book.

Havranek suggested commissioning the statue as part of the riverfront project so costs can be rolled into the state grant. But some Common Council members question if Wizard of Oz themed statues are an appropriate fit for that section of the riverfront.

Councilmember Kathleen Talbot said she wanted to see something more interactive.

“Something that will draw people there,” Talbot said. “I don’t know if this will.”

Frank Baum, the book’s author, attended the Peekskill Military Academy in the late 1860s and many people think the concept for the Yellow Brick Road came from the brick road path that connected the Hudson River to the academy.

Havranek suggested commissioning the statue as part of the riverfront project so costs can be rolled into the state grant. But construction plans are expected to be completed by June and officials don't want the project held up by the sculptures.

Richard Masloski, the man responsible for creating the Lincoln sculpture outside the Lincoln Depot Museum, has already proposed creating life-sized bronze sculptures of the characters from the Wizard of Oz. The estimate given for the sculptures in 2011 was  but Havranek said he would need to get an updated estimate.

“I think using the whole Frank Baum connection to Peekskill is phenomenal,” Talbot said. “I don’t want it to be a quick fix and sort of like ‘yeah, statue boom,’ like that does it.”

Mayor Foster suggested being vague about the type of sculptures that will be included in construction plans, to give the Council more time to think about what should go there.

Jean Friedman, the city’s director of planning, said this would be problematic for many sculptors, because they’ll want to know the exact dimensions of the space they have to work with.

Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan suggested including a set size and weight for each sculpture in the construction documents so that the process can keep moving forward.

“Someone may have nice piece they want to do that connects the Hudson River somehow to the walkway,” McGowan said. “I am not an artist. I don’t claim to be, but my thought process is that if we have decided that there is going to be something there that’s going to weigh 125 pounds or 150 pounds…you could still send the construction documents out.”

Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton agreed that the statues did not need to be tied to the Wizard of Oz. But she said the city needed to do something to acknowledge its connection to Baum.

“It’s a big draw here and I think it has a lot of potential to raise the city’s image,” Claxton said.

The Council eventually decided that it would have call out for additional proposals and pick the best one even if it isn’t tied to the Wizard of Oz. A date wasn't given for when it will begin accepting and reviewing proposals. 

Anabasis Bob February 22, 2013 at 05:53 PM
How could you have possibly missed the mine? The first time I saw that thing, I ran for cover. I thought qaeda was in town. When it didn't blow, I tried to push it back in the Hudson so others wouldn't suffer the same fate I did. It wouldn't budge, though. JT - excellent idea to scorch that thing. We should have a Melting of the Mine outing. That'll bring people to the Riverfront. A bonfire just like in the olden days. We'll torch that mother and float her out to sea.
Wendy Kelly February 22, 2013 at 09:31 PM
From what I understand Frank Braun attended the Military Academy 1.5 years. Do we do a statue of every notable person that has stepped foot in Peekskill? Look at NYC beautiful open parks not crappy artwork all over. Those statues go on Riverfront my house goes on the market. Anabasis Bob, I was told 6 months into the installment of lack for a better word harbor mine it was temporary. It has been there for years. On a positive note check this video out, below link wonderful.I knew it couldn't be a production from our city government as they are living in a fantasy land withTin Man, Toto et al. http://peekskill.patch.com/articles/restaurant-week-kicks-off-in-peekskill-on-feb-25
Sage on the Hudson February 22, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Why not build an actual yellow brick road, starting from a central spiral like the one n the movie, at the Riverfront Green, instead? It'd be cheaper, something that can actually be USED and far less likely to be vandalized than a trio of whimsical statues that all but cry out to teens, "deface me.".
Ray Adamick February 22, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Hmmm, no comment about the Indians, other then mine, interesting!
joshua tanner February 22, 2013 at 10:38 PM
If you go to Annsville Creek and look at all the installations along the walkway they talk only about the Indians along the creek with no mention of the Revolutionary War fort and barracks that used to be there.
Fly on the Wall February 23, 2013 at 02:44 AM
You should survey the pigeons and gulls for their opinion. After all; they will be the ones crapping on the statue.
sayitsnotsojack February 23, 2013 at 03:08 AM
They should be of Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck because Peekskill is getting to be more like Fantasyland every day. .
Diana February 23, 2013 at 04:07 AM
What a fantastic idea. This is so exciting to know that Peekskill may just have the original Yellow Brick Road right in their own community. What a wonderful unique idea to have these adorable Oz statues sculpted by Richard Masloski along the waterfront of Peekskill honoring L.Frank Baum world famous creation. This would not only enhance the beauty of the Peekskill waterfront but would bring joy to all those who stroll up and down the waterfront. The statues are absolutely adorable and make you just want to "Follow the Yellow Brick Road"!
Diana February 23, 2013 at 04:11 AM
The Statues would bring tourism, and the children would love them. There are others statues down at the waterfront that have never been defaced. These statues would only enhance the beauty of the waterfront.
Diana February 23, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Seriously Fly on he wall? You wouldn't love to take your children or you grand children to the waterfront and allow them to enjoy the statues? At the same time they would be learning a bit of history and enjoying the beauty of story of the Wizard of Oz..
joshua tanner February 23, 2013 at 05:53 AM
They was a Cortlandt lady who was a Munchkin in the movie. Her name was Leni Lynn and she was a MGM child actress at the time. She was friends with Judy Garland and made Babes in Arms with Mickey Rooney. She came to speak at the paramount back in the 90s. She died in 2010.
Rubio4u February 23, 2013 at 08:00 AM
Many people in this town are on government assistance and what does Mayor Mary and her band of idiots suggest? Statues?
Lynn Davis February 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM
The Peekskill Riverfront is large enough to accommodate both the natural vista's and the Oz statues. The sculptural pieces are endearing and captivating. Both children and adults will appreciate the whimsy and they will also discover that Frank Baum attended military school in Peekskill. They will add to the beauty of the area. Only a relatively small footprint is required in order to place the sculpted pieces in the Riverfront area. For $250,000 it is an absolute steal and if Peekskill doesn't take advantage of the artists offer, shame on them for looking a Gift Horse in the mouth.
Shane Logan February 23, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I thought that this had all been settled and that it was already agreed upon that the Oz characters would be placed at the Peekskill Riverfront. It seems to me that nothing gets accomplished in this city because council members keep revisiting the past! Move on with it already.
Gatsby February 23, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Rubio, Why not help people get off government assistance? Statues of WORLD FAMOUS characters from the WORLD FAMOUS OZ books would bring WORLD WIDE tourists to Peekskill. Tourists bring dollars! Dollars bring jobs!
Diana February 23, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Yes Shane, I was under the impression that the statues were going to be a reality. The idea of the Oz statues was approved over 3 years ago. Mary Foster and the Historian of Peekskill John Currran loved that idea, it was just a matter of funding. Now that Peekskill has the funding, Im greatly disappointed that there is a possibility that Peekskill will loose at on this wonderful opportunity to have them on the waterfront as led to believe.
Sage on the Hudson February 23, 2013 at 07:22 PM
You honestly think that anyone would come to Peekskill just to see a few bronze statues...when there's little else to do here?
Gatsby February 23, 2013 at 07:30 PM
OZ lovers are world-wide. And a few years back members of the Japanese OZ fan club paid a visit to Peeksill just to see the still existing yellow brick road. Now imagine them returning to see Peekskill's OZ Monument. Imagine some of them possibly desiring to invest in Peekskill as a consequence of their visit and enthusiasm for OZ. There may be little else to do in Peekskill, but one must start somewhere. Commemorating Baum's time at PMA and the likely fact that he drew inspiration for the world-famous "yellow brick road" from Peekskill's yellow bricks is something that should be utilized in an effort to promote more reasons for people to stop by Peekskill!
Roseann February 23, 2013 at 07:41 PM
The Oz statues are a fabulous idea at the Peekskill waterfront......would love this to be a reality!
Lynn Davis February 23, 2013 at 08:00 PM
The great city of Chicago has "Oz Park" with bronze sculptures of all of the Oz characters. Baum used to live a few miles away. Reach out to Oz Park for information. No doubt they will concur that the sculptures are very well worth it! The city of Newburgh has a sculpture of Christopher Columbus on the waterfront. How much sense was that? Did he land in Newburgh? At least Baum has roots in Peekskill (as well as Chicago).
c deneuve February 23, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I have seen that statue. I love it. It is a life sized statue and he looks exactly as I imagined Rip to look. The village of Irvington commissioned that statue I think because Washington Irving lived nearby.
Sage on the Hudson February 23, 2013 at 08:45 PM
I think rounding up a bunch of midgets and allowing them to go wild at the Peekskill Motor Inn, as they are reputed to have done at the Culver Hotel during the making of the film 74 years ago, would be FAR more noteworthy...
Abe's cousin February 23, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Peekskill absolutely needs something. It's a rather dull and uninspiring area on the Hudson. Please no "abstract" or "interpretive" art. The Oz approach sounds charming and there is a bonafide reason for the Oz characters to be there.The yellow brick road must be included somehow with the sculptures however!
shedoyle February 25, 2013 at 04:20 PM
how about doing what Croton did on the north side of the river front.... beautiful walking path along the river with open land for recreational sports. it is beautiful and utilized by the community to the fullest extent.... grant money for statues does not make sense. the grant money should enhance the interactive experience residents can have with their parks.
jo February 25, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Between the Soul Man shoe repair and the parking lot next to the Bakery is a bit of a Yellow Brick Road.. I believe it is roped off.. check it out. could that be the inspiration for Baum,, when he got off the train he might has seen the Yellow Bricks.
jo February 25, 2013 at 04:39 PM
I have been to PEI Island ,, home of Anne of Green Gables.. the tourists flock there from all over.. believe me ..tour buses all day..and PEI Island is not easy to get too.. I was very surprised..
Diana February 25, 2013 at 09:18 PM
The Oz statues have been the talk for a few years now. Their was even coverage about it on the news. Mayor Foster was for the idea, the only thing was they didn't have was the funding. Now that the funding is here, seems she's going back on her word. There is now enough funding to do theses statues and money left over. Having these statues would attract many people to Peekskill.
Monk E. Lopez February 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Excellent idea. If the city hosted a midget bacchanalia every year, it would more than make up for the absence of Celebration AND the Paramount. Of course, the city would have to hire a lot of extra cops to make sure the hooliganism and sex parties were confined to certain areas but such expenditures would be more than offset by all the tourist revenue. You get a couple of local boys dressing up as Dorothy and pretty soon you're the Bourbon Street of the North.
Diana February 26, 2013 at 12:07 AM
The Wall Street Journal reports on a proposal to erect these statues in Peekskill, New York. Why Peekskill? . Frank Baum attended the Peekskill Military Academy. And there is a small stretch of yellow brick road in the city, reportedly old enough for him to have seen. Are those facts enough to make Peekskill a significant site in the literary history of Oz? You Bet! Peekskill historian in June 2011 claimed in a front page Wall Street Journal article, and on CBS Early Show five-minute segment, and repeated to the London Times newspaper that Peekskill has a direct, plausible and verifiable claim to the yellow brick road inspiration of Frank Baum. The assertion and its explanations have so far not been questioned or challenged by anyone from anywhere else. Peekskill has demonstrated its singular literary and historical connection to the famous OZ story.
george coniglio February 28, 2014 at 05:54 PM
Check out the effort to bring an Oz Celebration to Peekskill on Facebook.. Peekskill's Journey to Oz

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