ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Allendale Township board received a recommendation to remove and replace a controversial Civil War statue located in one of the township parks.

The statue, which features a Confederate Soldier and a slave child, has been a topic of debate for nearly a year.

Activists began pushing for its removal early last summer, while others fought for the statue to stay, claiming it’s a source of education.

“This statue represents hate, it represents discrimination, it represents oppression,” local activist Jessica Miller told News 8.

During a township board meeting Monday night, a citizen committee created by the board presented its recommendation for the future of the monument.

“As a group, we propose to replace the current Civil War statue in the Garden of Honor with a statue of three union soldiers,” committee member Tumaini Sango said.

Sango said one of the three soldiers would be inspired by the likeness of African American solider Ben Jones, a former slave and Ottawa County resident who served from 1863 to 1865.

If adopted, the committee’s recommendation did not get into specifics about what would happen to the current statue following its removal.

“We didn’t land on one decision out of us, the committee,” Sango said. “But I remember talking about the possibility of donating the statue to a local museum or local historical society. Some thought we could leave the statue up for the meantime, others thought just putting the statue away, letting the township board take the statue and place it where it’s somewhere safe.”

As expected, the recommendation was met with criticism from community members on both sides of the debate.

During its presentation, the committee also presented ideas to incorporate QR codes and more educational opportunities to accompany future and existing statues.

No decision was made at Monday’s meeting. The Allendale Township board is expected to put the matter to vote soon, possibly as early as next month’s meeting.