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NYC Launches Online Survey Regarding Controversial Statues

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The public is getting a chance to help decide the fate of controversial statues and plaques in New York City.

The city has launched an online survey where New Yorkers can voice their opinions on which statues they think should stay, be removed, be relocated or have signs or other educational markers.

Questions include "What do you think is the role of public monuments in our city's public spaces?" and "What factors should the City consider when reviewing a monument?"

The public can also suggest ideas for new monuments.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently established a monument review commission amid the controversy over the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle.

"I think they should stay here," Lower East Side resident Richard Gomez told CBS2's Jessica Moore. "It's a very important part of the city and to remove it would affect all of us."

"It's American heritage. It's tradition. That's what I believe," said Midtown resident Eddie Underwood.

"I don't want to celebrate that guy for what he did, but Washington had slaves," said Midtown resident Valerie De Roy. "He is part of history. We can't erase that, but we need to make people aware of what happened in that time."

"Surveys are always good," said Upper West Side resident Yasser Gowayed. "You get the drift of people, but that's not enough. That's all I say."

The 75-foot Columbus statue came under fire from groups who highlight Columbus' mistreatment of Native Americans and Caribbeans.

Earlier this month at the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue, participants voiced their displeasure that monuments dedicated to the explorer are among the statues that may be considered in the debate over controversial statues and plaques on city property.

While the mayor's office has said there's no plan to touch the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle, some other plaques and monuments in the city are on their way out.

Over the summer, the mayor said a sidewalk tribute to Henri Philippe Petain in the Canyon of Heroes will be removed. Petain was a French general who collaborated with Nazis.

Two plaques dedicated to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee were taken down in Brooklyn and on the campus of Bronx Community College, administrators there have decided to take to down statues of Lee and another general of the Confederacy, Stonewall Jackson.

The city's Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl said the survey will make sure "every New Yorker has an opportunity to weigh in on monuments in our city's public spaces."

"From asking broadly about the role of public art in public space, to seeking feedback on particular works and a range of ideas for possible interventions, the survey will make sure that every resident who wants to participate in the 90 day review can have a say in the process," Finkelpearl said in a statement. "Responses will play a critical role in shaping commission's work of developing guidelines that can be applied broadly to art on City property, with the ultimate goal of putting forth a thoughtful way to promote more inclusive, welcoming public spaces for all New Yorkers."

Included in the survey are questions such as; what do you think is the role of public monuments in our city's public spaces? And what factors should the city consider when reviewing a monument?

While the survey is intended for people in the five boroughs, anyone anywhere can take it. At least one tourist had some words of wisdom.

"It's worth a debate and I think that's a big part of what we're missing in this country is having a debate about a lot of these things, and discussing it like adults," Jason Federici said.

The mayor's office said public responses will play a critical role in shaping the guidelines for art on city property, but at the end of the day the decision will be in the hands of 18 people.

To take the survey, CLICK HERE.

Officials will be collecting responses through Nov. 26

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