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Katyn Monument In Jersey City

By on July 16, 2020

The True Story about the Katyn Monument in Jersey City 

NEW JERSEY – Amongst the rumors & innuendos that are being circulated by a few people within the Polish Community lies the Truth.  Perhaps the Truth is not as exciting to these  individuals, so this is why they feel a need to create a doomsday scenario.  The purpose of this article is to reveal the Truth and outline what measures are being taken to ensure the Katyn Monument’s continued safety.

The reality is that the Katyn Monument in Jersey City, NJ was saved from relocation on December 19, 2018.  Several groups rose to the occasion to show their support. However, only the Committee for the Conservation of the Katyn Monument & Historic Objects lead by Janusz Sporek (CCKM & HO) had regular meetings with the City Council to strategize on how this goal was to be accomplished.  Members of this committee tirelessly gathered signatures of Jersey City residents that would stop plans for the Monument’s relocation. Slawek Platta, an attorney and member of this organization, was instrumental in drafting the language that would be included in the City’s Ordinance 144 to have the Katyn Monument remain in 
Exchange Place Plaza in Jersey City for “perpetuity”.

In the last 19 months since Ordinance 144 was signed, the CCKM & HO has continued to have correspondence with both the Jersey City Council & the Exchange Place Alliance Special Improvement District (SID).  Members of the Board of Directors for the CCKM & HO met on June 29, 2020 with the Exchange Place Alliance SID to review preliminary plans for the renovation of the area surrounding the Katyn Monument.  The  CCKM & HO chose Wojciech Mazur, with an engineering background, and Charles Balcer, former Jersey City Planner who was involved in the original site selection & erection of the Monument, along with Alice Wozniak to represent the committee’s interests when meeting with the Exchange Place Alliance SID’s Executive Director Elizabeth Cain and her associate Martin Schmid.  The detailed meeting reviewed the preliminary plans and addressed the overall concerns of the Polish American Community and community at large.

What the CCKM & HO discovered is a well thought out plan that ultimately highlights the  prominence of the Katyn Monument as well as protects it.  The design of the new park area will also improve the flow of Pedestrian traffic.  Elizabeth Cain was very receptive to the suggestions made by the CCKM & HO.  The layout of the renovations were  modeled after the recent successful park renovations implemented in Sinatra Park in Hoboken NJ.

The Exchange Place Renovation Plan calls for the removal of the pavers surrounding the Monument and Exchange Place Plaza with the installation of a lawn.  The lawn would create better drainage in the area which is currently prone to flooding.  The lawn  also acts as a deterrent to skateboarders who are often seen using the Monument’s base as a launching pad for their acrobatics and staining the base with their skateboard wax. Also the food trucks will not be able to stay close to monument making noise and exhausting toxic fumes around near the base of monument anymore.  A proposed circular concrete bench would be used by pedestrians who want to sit  and pay tribute to the monument with low canopy shrubs that will visually enhance the Monument.  A cobblestone pathway leading up to the front of the Monument where a plaque honoring the 911 Martyrs is displayed is being considered. This would allow 
Dignitaries to continue to lay commemorative wreaths for those lost in the Katyn Massacre, Siberia and 911 with the backdrop of the Freedom Tower.  A secondary entranceway to the Monument from the waterfront is also proposed.  A low canopy of  trees along the side of the Hyatt Hotel will add to the beauty of the park area. 

During the removal of the paver stones the CCKM & HO has requested that plywood surrounding the entire Monument be erected to ensure protection from debris that may be loosened when the pavers are removed.  A request was also made that any pavement in contact with the monument’s base be cut by a concrete saw to ensure that  vibrations from equipment used to remove the paver stones would not damage the base  of the monument.  Existing conduit for electrical and water drainage will be reused to avoid further disruption to the area.  From an engineering perspective, the preliminary 
plans for the Exchange Place Renovations appear to show no adverse concerns that would affect the stability of the Katyn Monument.  The Committee for the Conservation of the Katyn Monument & Historic Objects will continue to meet with Elizabeth Cain and her associates as the plan continues to evolve.  We promise to keep  the Polish American Community updated to ensure that only accurate information is  distributed to the public. 

Plans involving the  area closer to the Monument are still in the preliminary stages of discussions.   

This  article is authorized by Elizabeth Cain, Executive Director of SID.

Submitted by Wojciech Stan Mazur
Vice President of Business Affairs
Committee for the Conservation of the Katyn Monument & Historic Objects