Despite strong objections from some community members, the University Park Town Council is moving forward with plans to construct a veterans’ memorial garden at the intersection of Wells Parkway, Clagget Road and Eversfield Street.
Several residents who live near the proposed site raised concerns earlier this year, citing traffic congestion, cost concerns and noise issues as they said the location is at a busy intersection that would not be conducive to quiet contemplation.
After listening to resident comments and discussing the matter for more than an hour at a May 5 Town Council meeting, the council members voted 3-to-2 to keep the location selected in 2012.
“The great majority of homeowners in that area don’t want it, not because we don’t like the idea of a memorial,” said resident Morgan Wootten at the meeting. “The [concerns] are safety, traffic, handicap signs, the crowds, the value of the homes in the area. What would we lose by taking another look at it by consulting the people in the area who have never been consulted?”
Then-councilman Len Carey, who was elected mayor May 6, said a committee of around a dozen residents and officials evaluated 11 potential memorial sites in 2012 and determined the Wells Parkway location was the most appropriate based on size, location and vegetation. He said reconsidering the memorial location now would be a step backward.
“The town went through a very thorough process [to select this site],” Carey said. “I think for us to now reconsider that is to open up a can of worms. I am concerned it would ignore the tremendous amount of input that went into the site selection.”
Councilwoman Arlene Christiansen (Ward 3) noted that the memorial design is open to modifications, and that the council is still able to cancel the project.
About 15 residents attended the May 5 meeting to give their opinions to the council and the majority asked for other sites to be reconsidered before moving forward with the memorial project, which is estimated to cost around $30,000.
Resident Julie Enszer, who lives across the street from the proposed site, said it is not too late to reconsider the location.
“Sometimes you go through a long and very thorough process and you come up with the wrong solution and you have to go back,” she said. “And I’m obviously skeptical that it was very thorough because we were notified after designs were put up — designs that would in fact require the consent of adjoining neighbors in order for you to implement.”
Resident Gary Williams said he and his wife, Jo, have been able to follow the memorial plan progress thanks to town officials.
“There is democracy in action here and has been from the beginning,” Williams said. “There have been constant postings of these meetings, and I assume as part of the democratic process here that the [memorial] committee reported back to their elected representatives.”