Private donations should not influence how public property is used

Dear Secaucus Reporter and Mayor Gonnelli:

Private donations should not influence how public property is used. I believe Gandhi would not want a statue of himself erected under these conditions. He was a holy man, not ego driven. He inspired many, the same way Dr. Martin Luther King and Saint Pope John Paul II inspired many with the same philosophy.
On my first and recent visit to the “meditation garden” behind the rec center, I was troubled to see that there are many quotes hung on plaques, all bearing the writings of one single resident. That man is not someone I have ever heard of, though he is identified as a Secaucus resident. I wonder, what makes his insights about humanity, thoughtful as they are, so special that they get the spotlight on a site that belongs to the public? Because he donated the meditation garden? The message it sends, unfortunately, is that money buys influence.
Why not balance the scale a bit and invite more quotes for the garden from other residents? Perhaps even hold a contest?
Am I missing something here, or are there other parcels of land in this town that are skewed in their appearance and message to one culture? (The little head of Columbus on the island outside of Marra’s?) I can’t think of any.
To my view, the meditation garden and now the statue of Gandhi are gifts that make you and the Town Council beholden to the wishes of the Indian residents of this town. And while the gentle people of the Indian culture have certainly been a welcome addition, so have many others who call Secaucus home.
To be sure, the strength of our town, and of our country, has come from the strength of the whole. To single out and celebrate one particular group destroys the foundation which has made America great. A solitary statue of Gandhi would not be a nod to peace and understanding. It would be a knife of divisiveness.
If the Town Council continues to appease one cultural group, it will destroy the very diversity it says it is promoting and we will become another Union City or Fort Lee.
People who have lived in Secaucus for all or much of their lives deserve to have their voices heard. To slough off the feelings of those who oppose this statue, saying your decision to move forward with it was “an easy one” is shallow and, frankly, offensive. Your callous decision to tune out the voices of dissent does not foster diversity. It destroys it.
As a show of true tolerance and a nod to the message of peace promoted by Gandhi, I respectfully suggest that you place alongside Gandhi’s statue, the statues of others who stood for the same principles…Dr. Martin Luther King and Saint Pope John Paul II for starters. Such a move will be a true sign of diversity and an example to other towns of how it’s done right.
Because it’s the right thing to do.

Marianne Correri

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