The veterans of St Peter, MN have been trying for THREE YEARS to get the City Council members to approve the location for a memorial and it would appear the council has been pushing them off, changing the "reason" every time. We need to stand behind the veterans and let the Council know what we, the residents of St Peter, want. We also need to let the veterans know that we support them!
Following is an article from the St Peter Herald:
The location of a proposed veterans memorial remains a contentious issue for St. Peter City Council members and has left some area veterans feeling unappreciated.
More than 30 veterans attended a June 14 City Council meeting to request permission to construct a war memorial at St. Peter’s Minnesota Square Park.
Hoping for a firm “yes” or “no,” they instead got deferred. Bob Lambert, chair of the St. Peter Area Veterans Memorial Committee said it isn’t the first time a decision about the location has been put off.
“You know, I’m amazed they haven’t been able to come to a decision yet,” Lambert said after the meeting. “We’ve been talking about this for three years.”
The committee approached the council most recently last fall.
In September, it presented plans that showed the memorial located in Minnesota Square Park along Hwy. 169. But though council members previously indicated the area would be a good location for the memorial, they were reluctant to commit to the space.
Citing concerns that such a prominent structure would change the tone of the park and pull visitors’ eyes away from its focal point— a large pavilion — it asked the group of veterans to scale down the size of the project while it continued to discuss whether or not the park was the right location for it.
Two months later, in November, the veterans came back to the council with plans that significantly reduce the proposed memorial’s footprint.
Council members once again had concerns, not only about the memorial’s location, but its purpose. Those comments seemed to stun some veterans who appeared visibly shocked by the council members’ apparent lack of understanding.
“One of the questions asked at the last presentation was, ‘Why do you want to build a memorial to yourselves?’” Lambert said Monday. “That question was revealing, in that it reminded us that not all people automatically believe veterans need to be honored.”
“Another statement at the same meeting was, ‘Not all people like war memorials.’ … The purpose of a memorial is certainly NOT to memorialize any war. There is no one who dislikes war more than a veteran. As much as veterans may dislike war, we also appreciate the freedom we are able to enjoy in this country and we realize that freedom came with a price — a very high price for some of our fellow citizens from St. Peter.”
Lambert went on to say that those military personnel should be honored, prominently and visibly.
“The purpose of a veterans memorial is to proclaim honor to those willing to serve in their country,” Lambert said. “If our community believes that veterans deserve to be honored, the place of honor should not be hidden in a remote park or on a small piece of land that provides limited access for the public.”
Responding to concerns raised by the council in November, the committee did suggest an alternate location for the memorial — the northeast corner of Minnesota Square Park. It would be 3,600 square feet, one-third the size originally proposed, and would take up less than 1 percent of the park’s total space, said Eric Sahnow of Oleson+Hobbie Architects.
It would consist of several large lighted monuments representing each branch of military service, a large round pedestal for a statue and a remembrance wall, show concept drawings.
Mayor Tim Strand wanted to delay voting on the new location until Councilor Susan Carlin, who has been in China since January, returns next month.
Carlin has previously expressed concerns that the memorial would change the tone of Minnesota Square Park. She also voiced a belief that while a war memorial would hold significance to the area’s veterans, it would not hold much appeal for the broader community.
Councilor Roger Parras said he saw no reason to wait for Carlin, arguing that the council has been voting without her on other, important issues for months. He was willing to vote on the new location immediately, but Councilor John Kvamme said the issue was one to take up during a workshop.
Strand also suggested forming a committee including several of the veterans, members of the city’s parks board and other community members to discuss potential locations for the memorial.
No action was taken and several of the veterans to attend the meeting walked away saying it was a “waste of time.” Legion members said the group has 275 members — 283 counting members of St. Peter’s Vietnam War Era Last Man Club. All of them are firmly behind the project, the group’s adjudicator said.
St. Peter American Legion Post Commander Eric Thomas told the council he thought one of the main benefits of building the memorial would be to educate residents about the sacrifices made by veterans.
As it stands, the community seems to lack specific knowledge about what wars St. Peter residents have fought in and why they should be honored.
“I think there’s very little education about veterans in St. Peter,” Thomas said. “… I think there’d be a real educational benefit to this.”