Herald Staff Writer
A proposed military memorial at Williams Memorial Park remains in committee as city council members and the public continue to ask questions.
Nobody objects to the idea of a memorial but some raising concerns object to the prefabricated Woody Williams Foundation design, wanting something unique and homegrown. Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey, in addition, objects to the manner in which it was brought to council.
The most common objection is that being a Woody Williams memorial, it is dedicated foremost to Gold Star families, so called because of the placard presented for display on the houses of families who had a service member killed in action. These objectors would prefer a memorial to all veterans.
“We can put anything we want on the back of the panels,” Councilman Jamie Lukens said.
Lukens is an Army veteran and a military memorial was a campaign objective in his run for city council. He happened on the Woody Williams Foundation in a search for memorial ideas and brought it to the administration.
City afministrator Robert Fowler was not at the Sept. 5 committee work session but caught up with The Herald later.
“We would have to pay to design our own memorial,” Fowler said. “I thought going off the shelf with something we could customize would save the city some money.”
The city, should the legislation eventually be approved, is fronting $34,000, using cable franchise fee money, and the Williams Foundation is collecting donations. The full cost of the project could be covered by private contributions, although whether the city would be reimbursed its up-front cost is up in the air.
In an effort to curb absentee landlord apathy, council is considering a rental registration fee, which would place a mandatory annual surcharge on every rental unit in town. This money would, in turn cover the costs of periodic inspections.
Councilman Scott Pelot reminded his colleagues that a city property maintenance code was obliterated in the ballot box several years back. Council President Paul Tousely objected on principal to telling property owners they had to get permission from the city before they could rent out their property.
Council ill continue committee discussions on this.
Council will hear readings on two rezonings, both going from business to commercial. One is on the site of the old Hunky Dory bakery off Cleveland Massillon Road. When the bakery closed, the land was first floated for a hotel that finally ended up in Wadsworth, and then for an Akron General Medical Center satellite facility, which also fell through.
It is now being considered for so-called flex units, modular office and warehouse space similar in concept to storage units and marketed to business startups.
The other rezoning is the site of the former Silver Pyramid gaming parlor, also on Cleveland Massillon Road.
Council declined to bring forward a measure appoving the final phase of the Brookside Greens development. Council had been promised details on mounds and other buffering on this phase before it came to a vote but hasn’t received it yet.
“If we can’t get our questions answered, why should we move it forward,” Councilman Doug DeHarpart asked.