WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - A business owner being forced to remove the Virgin Mary from a traffic island is creating uproar in town, but the town says it's a simple case of not mixing church and state.
As part of a project to beautify the town of West Springfield, business owners and individuals adopt traffic islands; donating their time and money to landscape and maintain them. However, Antonio Liquori's choice of the Virgin Mary at his island at Westfield Street and South Boulevard, wasn't well received by some.
"About a year later, they tell me to take the Madonna down so I was kind of upset because you know everybody has a mother," Liquori said.
The owner of nearby Liquori's Pizza, Antonio received a letter from the City's Deputy Director of Operations, Vincent DeSantis, saying the department received several complaints: "Unfortunately, in this day and age, religious artifacts are not to be displayed on city property."
Joan Palermo of West Springfield told 22News, "Everyone I know was very upset. The Virgin Mary wasn't doing anything, she was beautiful. "
Joan started a petition to allow Liquori to return the statue to the traffic island; in this case, not accepting the divide between church and state.
"I'm so heartbroken it's so empty there everybody when they go by they sign the cross and they love it."
DeSantis said the " Adopt an Island" project will now be limited to different types of plantings.