Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts
 

More about the Samantha Stephens statue. Christian got a mention for his "Chopsticks and noodles" comment!

Statue Will Stand in Lappin Park for at Least a Decade
By Ben Casselman
Salem News, Wednesday, May 25, 2005

SALEM — Samantha Stephens was given an exclusive downtown parking spot for at least 10 years.

The Salem Redevelopment Authority last night approved an agreement that will allow TV Land, a cable network dedicated to classic television shows, to place a 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery's character from "Bewitched" in Lappin Park, at the corner of Washington and Essex Streets. The statue will depict Montgomery side-saddle on a broom against a crescent-moon background, reminiscent of the show's animated opening credits.

The board voted earlier this month to accept the statue, but left many details undecided, including what would happen if the city someday decides it no longer wants the statue. The agreement approved last night resolves those issues.

Among the agreement's central provisions are:

r The statue will be in place for at least 10 years, barring major vandalism or serious safety concerns.

r If the city wants it moved after 10 years, the city and TV Land must agree on a new location. If they cannot find one, TV Land will pay to remove the statue.

r The city will pay to maintain the park and to pick up litter around the statue, but TV Land will pay for any repairs or maintenance of the statue itself.

r TV Land will pay all expenses relating to the statue's installation, including park renovations, permits and a police presence during the dedication ceremony.

r The city must obtain permission from TV Land to use the statue in marketing campaigns or for any other purpose.

Unlike the SRA's last meeting on the statue, which drew dozens of residents on both sides, last night's meeting was relatively quiet, with just a handful of people at the City Hall annex. But those who did attend were no less outspoken for their smaller numbers.

"I'm very, very concerned about the 10-year clause," said statue opponent Jean Harrison. "We have no recourse according to this contract if we go, 'Oh my God, this thing's a behemoth.'"

Harrison also said the statue might not sit well with the owners of Salem's new downtown luxury condominiums. But statue supporter Christian Day dismissed that argument.

"If I didn't like chopsticks and noodles, I probably wouldn't move to Chinatown," he said. "And if I did live in Chinatown, I'd probably get used to people asking me for directions to this or that dim-sum restaurant."

SRA member Christine Sullivan said both sides need to get beyond the culture-vs.-witches fight.

"The problem with the conversation we're having is it's polarizing," she said. "I would like to see us come together."

To that end, Sullivan suggested that the city push TV Land to help create a fund to build more historically themed statues, and she said she hoped the city in 2007 would celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of architect Samuel McIntire with as much enthusiasm as it is now celebrating Samantha Stephens.

SRA Chairman Michael Brennan said that, in the end, the board did what it thought was best.

"I think it's good for this city," he said. "I think it's going to be good for this part of the street, and I guess we'll see in time."



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