Greendale School District retreats from veterans memorial, for now

Published on: 7/15/2014

Greendale — The decision to place a proposed veterans memorial on Greendale School District property was tabled this week, after multiple residents opposed the location due to safety concerns.

Judy Fons was just one of several Greendale residents who opposed the location, situated next to the intersection of Broad Street and Southway, when the idea was discussed at the school board's meeting on Monday, July 14.

'I'm not anti-memorial, but I am against the location for several reasons,' Fons said. 'It's probably one of the busiest corners in the village right now ... and (additional) signage on that corner won't make any difference to the people coming and going. I think that corner would be hazardous if people slowed down to look at the memorial.'

Fons also argued that not enough information about the memorial had been shared with the community.

Picking the place

The Greendale Veterans Memorial was designed for the intersection's open space after the project's committee determined it was the most suitable location. The property sits across from Greendale High School's newly renovated baseball field.

The memorial will honor all branches of service with six granite panels and feature a digital kiosk that stores information regarding Greendale's veterans. The estimated cost for the memorial ranges between $220,000 and $250,000.

In a Memorandum of Understanding from the Greendale Veterans Memorial Committee brought before the school board Monday, July 14, the district would neither sell nor lease the property to the memorial committee. Instead, the district would simply permit the group to construct the memorial on its property and use it for 75 years.

'The proposed memorial is both visible and unobtrusive (from the intersection),' said School Board Vice President Tom Slota, who also serves on the memorial committee. 'It (would be) in a lot that needs improvement and is accessible. We have talked about this for quite some time ... and from what I've seen, I think this is the best (location).'

Giving it more thought

However, given the resistance district officials faced Monday, and to allow more time for discussion among community members, the school board unanimously agreed to table the issue until Oct. 6.

'I think we need to discuss this more thoroughly … so that the entire community is sold on the location,' said School Board Member Victoria McCormick. 'This (memorial) is for the whole community, not just the district.

'We haven't had a memorial for 75 years and if it's four more months before we decide to place it somewhere, I think that it (would) still serve us well.'

But a delay in construction means a delay in fundraising, said Bill Kewan, a civilian member of the memorial committee.

'I was disappointed in the decision to table the (issue) because it delays the fundraising process,' Kewan said after the meeting. 'It's hard to ask big donors for money if we don't have access to the property. Everything needs to be finalized before we can begin reaching out.'

Kewan said the committee will continue to raise funds through its website and community events.

If the school does approve the Memorandum of Understanding in October, the memorial would still need approval from the village's building commission and board of trustees before construction could begin.

If the school board denies the MOU, 'the project would be dead,' because the memorial was designed specifically for the Broad Street and Southway location, Kewan said, adding: 'We'd have to redesign the whole memorial.'