City's headache over donated 7-ton statue cured

(CBS NEWS) There was a big debate over a very large head in Covina, Calif., just east of Los Angeles.

The issue was what to do with a giant Mexican statue, given to a city as a gift.

It boiled down to location, location, location.

For more than 20 years, it stood silent sentry at a police station outside Los Angeles -- a duty it neither asked for, nor for which it was intended.

Still, since it weighs seven tons -- once the stone head was planted, most figured that's where it would stay.

But last Christmas, the imposing visage ended up in a rather undignified pose -- at the city's maintenance lot.

It's not particularly valuable -- not like its 3,000-year-old cousins left behind by the Olmecs in Mexico.

"There are only 17 heads that we know of that have been found," says Victoria Lyall, of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Covina head is just a replica -- a very big, immobile, but well-intentioned replica, made in 1989.

The only reason it holds any value at all is because it was a gift to Covina from its sister city in Mexico.

But to Covina City Councilman Bob Low, the head was a courtesy meant to educate, and belongs at the local library. "It's in a city yard, lying in a pile of sand. And that hurts," he says.

Latino advocacy groups agree and, at a City Council meeting Tuesday night, the head was at the head of the agenda.

"I don't think it would be appreciated at somewhere where it's kind of hidden," one speaker said.

But the head's new home will to be a park -- one named, says Covina Mayor Kevin Stapleton, after the Mexican city that donated the head in the first place. "If somebody gave you a gift, and you named a park after them, wouldn't you want to put that gift in that park that you named after them?" Stapleton asks.

The tale of how the head ended up ear-down in the dirt isn't as unfeeling as it sounds.

It was moved there temporarily to make room at the police station for a memorial to fallen officers.

All this attention for a statue meant to get people's attention.

To see Lee Cowan's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Lee Cowan

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