Chatfield council tables discussion on veterans'
memorial due to differing viewpoints on plans
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 2:54 AM
After several months of discussion and review, Chatfield's city council voted Monday, Jan. 27, to table any further consideration for a new veterans' memorial in Chatfield, as disagreements on what the memorial should include and where it would be built were numerous.
A visit to the city park was on the agenda, but given the extremely cold January wind, the council chose not to venture out to see the proposed building site.
Chatfield American Legion Post Commander Jerry Baudoin approached the council with a third design proposal for the memorial, sharing that City Park seemed a fitting location for the memorial because those at the Legion who are assisting with its planning wished to draw attention to the existing memorial and cannon in the park while also creating a new landmark honoring veterans.
He stated that he and others in the planning group had perused other sites, briefly and informally. Those included the lawn in front of Potter Auditorium and the triangular parcel of land on which the Chatfield welcome sign is situated on Highway 52 South. However, he said, they quickly eliminated both due to visibility and maintenance reasons. He pointed out that "the point of putting it at the park is that there will be veterans milling about at the park, taking part in activities there."
Councilor Dave Frank countered that he feels that while a veteran's memorial is a noble concept, the plot that Baudoin spoke of at the park is already crowded in relation to its surroundings - the tourist information cabin, the cannon and the existing memorial are within several feet of one another.
"I think the park already has too much stuff. Right now, with the cannon, monument and flag flying, it's pretty well proportioned with the room around it now," Frank said.
Baudoin answered, "I don't think the proposed monument is that massive - four to six feet high at the most, and the cannon would still be off to the left or to the front."
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander Fran Novotny also spoke to the council, relating that he felt the park is not the right place for the memorial, but the VFW had been hoping to establish a new memorial somewhere in town for the past five years.
Mayor Russ Smith suggested it be put in Mill Creek Park, where family reunions might be held and visitors might have a quieter place to reflect on the memorial's significance, a suggestion with which Novotny concurred.
Councilor Robert Pederson asked if the memorial might be placed across the street on the library lawn, next to the pioneer highway sign.
Councilor Mike Urban observed that Baudoin had brought two other drafts of monuments to the city and that if the design process was still evolving, maybe the planning group should take more time to bring forward a professional design.
Baudoin stated, "If it were cut and dried, with no variations, we would, but nothing's cut and dried."
He added that if the city were to have a place in mind, he might be better able to engage a professional design firm to draw up plans for the memorial, but without a plot for its placement on which the council could agree, he felt that expenditure would be too much.
The Legion commander then suggested the council table the matter until more determinations about the memorial could be made. The motion passed, with Pederson opposed.
The council set a public hearing for the Twiford Street project - the property the city has been redeveloping for possible commercial retail space - for March 24.
David Drown & Associates representative Michael Bubany explained that the economic development authority (EDA) is still negotiating a contract with the developer and that nothing has been signed yet.
"The developer has asked for tax increment financing for retaining walls and other infrastructure," Bubany said. "They'd use pay-as-you-go reimbursement like we did with E-Z Fabricating. The EDA is still contemplating the purchase agreement with the developer."
Councilor Ken Jacobson gave the public services report, citing that the committee met to discuss possibly remodeling the fire hall kitchen, as well as pursuing how to deal with dilapidated houses in the community.
"We've asked Joel (Young) to help us get the steps we need from Fred Suhler," he commented.
In park and recreation news, Frank explained that the city is working with the Commercial Club on who is responsible for the upkeep of the city float, and that the Chatfield Saddle Club would like to install bleachers at the horse arena at Mill Creek Park this spring.
"We're also working toward hiring a pool manager and lifeguard staff, even though it's only January," he said.
City maintenance foreman Tony Lammers reminded citizens that the city has dealt with three water main breaks this winter as a consequence of the chilly weather. While the crews do not intend to turn the water off without properly notifying affected neighbors, if they cannot find the residents of a neighborhood, those residents might have to endure a few hours without water service to their homes.
Lammers and the council also asked that residents not park on the street overnight, as it causes difficulty during morning snow plowing.
They also requested that anyone who has a fire hydrant on their property to please clear the snow around it to make locating it easier in case of emergency.