Monday, August 23, 2010

North Canton Veterans Memorial Fails to Pass Muster

Prepared Comments Made to
North Canton City Council

August 23, 2010

The North Canton Hoover World War II Veterans Monument relocation plans have run amok, clear and simple. One only has to observe what is unfolding before our eyes to see that this project has turned into a debacle that only memorializes the destruction of a small park and the faulty planning of everyone who has had a hand in forcing the the placement of the memorial in that park.

At last Monday night's Council of the Whole meeting, three members of the Veterans Memorial committee, Jim Dansizen, Ken Dansizen, and Jim Repace came before council to ask for council's blessing for Phase II of the project. Board member Jim Repace dropped a bombshell on a fiscally strapped North Canton City Council and requested $65,000 of scare taxpayer funds to be put toward completion of the project. A citizen request to address council regarding remarks made by the Veterans Memorial committee members that night was denied.

Resolution No. 72-10 to be voted on tonight calls for North Canton City Council to authorize the Hoover World War II Veterans Monument committeeto work in conjunction with the Administration of the City of North Canton to begin Phase II of the Veterans Memorial in Bitzer Park.

The resolution is to be passed on an emergency. Emergency action by this legislative body is deemed necessary for the preservation of the health, safety, and peace of the City of North Canton.

Unfortunately, I do not see any preservation taking place in Bitzer Park. I am not alone with that opinion. Online comments from last week's Repository story on August 17, 2010, titled, "N. Canton veterans memorial to be done by Nov." are unanimous regarding the poor placement of the Veterans Memorial in Bitzer Park.

One commenter, jpbarr, states: "...I have not found one person yet that understands why the memorial structure was placed where it is situated & and at that angle in relation to the street. Everyone I've talked to is dismayed at its the committee is expecting the city to make it blend in. In my eyes, very poor planning. It is nothing but a brick wall coming from the south...anything but a good angle. It blocks the view into the park."

Commenter Whitten agrees with the previous posting and adds: "The positioning of the structure is horrible. It blocks the whole view of the park...Not attractive at all. I could not believe this was not more thought out or designed better. What an eyesore. I don'tsee any way possible to get this monstrous wall to 'blend in now.'"

Commenter Interloper also agrees stating, "I also agree with the poor placement and overall designs of the memorial....You only see a huge pile of bricks, in what used to be a cute little park....The designers and committee members should all have their heads examined. the idea of a memorial for these men is a wonderful thing, leave it to North Canton to screw it up...."

The North Canton Hoover World War II Veterans Monument committee has not only failed in the implementation of its plan for the memorial but the committee has also not kept their word.

A January 6, 2010, Repository story titled, "North Canton may get veterans memorial at Bitzer Park," states that the W.H. "Boss" Hoover statue will be relocated. plans submitted to the city show that the memorial wall was to be located where the "Boss" Hoover statue now stands.

That is not where the Memorial wall has been placed.

At the very outset of the public discussions I stated that placing that large of a memorial in Bitzer Park was like putting twenty pounds of potatoes in a ten-pound sack.

In the same Repository story, Jim Repace states that "...he also hopes the project will help correct drainage problems in Bitzer Park and that [he] is confident that fundraising will be finished quickly enough to have work completed by Memorial Day." We all know that has not panned out.

Apparently the confidence of Mr. Repace has evaporated regarding the group's efforts to raise funds and they now come to the city requesting financial assistance to the tune of $65,000. If anyone thinks the completion of Phase I of the memorial wall is going to spur financial contributions from the public, the comments I read to you from the Repository story would tell you absolutely NOT!

As we all know by now, the memorial wall has not been placed where we were all told it would be placed. The decision to abandon the plan presented to council should have been re-presented to council for further study.

The decision to change plans for the location of the memorial wall was a fateful decision that destroys not only a cute little park but also undermines the very goal we all hoped to achieve, a fitting memorial to honor our veterans.

In the same Repository story, local architect Ken Dansizen states, "...the design uses existing features in the park and no trees will be removed...."

But in reality two large trees were removed contrary to promises made publicly to this body. Furthermore, limbs continue to be trimmed to further accommodate the project.

In City Council minutes of January 11, 2010, Jim Repace is quoted as saying, "...there's some concern if we do the first part of this project what happens--will the city be on the hook if we can't finish the project; absolutely not. We will be able to get enough funds for this project. There's no doubt in my mind we'll be able to get enough funds. The city will not be on the hook."

Apparently, those statements are not true like so many other statements made by members of the committee.

Further investment of monies, public or private, cannot salvage this debacle. The North Canton Veterans Memorial fails to pass muster and deserves a dishonorable discharge.

I urge this council to halt any further construction on the Veterans Memorial in Bitzer Park and not pass Resolution 72-10.

This country's veterans deserve a more fitting location for a memorial.

The memorial is intended to stand long after we are gone from this earth. Please do not memorialize a structure that clearly is poorly placed in a small park that only serves to elicit derision every time it is seen when it should be a source of pride for North Canton and its residents.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
Resident, City of North Canton