WATSONVILLE—The City of Watsonville has established a survey in hopes of gathering community input on the future of the George Washington bust in the City Plaza.
The three-question survey asks the public for opinions about the statue in its current state, and if they have any ideas or suggestions about its future.
It also asks for a person’s current address. The City says it will not share that information, and that it will be solely used to filter responses from those who live in Watsonville and those that do not.
It will be live until 11:45pm on Sept. 30.
The City will then hold a series of town halls in October to discuss the survey’s results and gather ideas for the future of the bust that will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission during its Nov. 2 meeting.
The donated statue has been under the microscope since mid-July when a petition calling for its removal circulated through the web and gathered more than 1,700 virtual signatures. Two other petitions in favor of keeping the bust hit the web soon after.
The Parks and Recreation Commission in its August meeting fielded opinions about the bust from dozens of community members both for and against its removal.
Part of a $100,000 gift from the Alaga Family Estate as a dying wish of Lloyd F. Alaga, the bust has called the City Plaza home since 2001. The City Council unanimously approved the gift from Alaga in 1999, using $70,000 to create the bust and the rest to help restore the fountain in the historic park. The accompanying plaque on the pedestal reads “George Washington, 1732-1799, Father of His Country” and “First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”
For two decades it has sat mostly unnoticed at the park nestled into the center of the city along with a handful of other historic elements such as two cannons, including one that was on the deck of the S.S. Oregon Mail where it was used to fire the first shot celebrating the state of California joining the U.S. in 1850.
But the debate around the bust began as several monuments to presidents, historic figures and the Confederacy across the country have been removed—both voluntarily and not.