An unusual sight to behold, but the May 19th Committee Meeting was packed to the rafters at the Village hall, something that is rarely seen in the village. It seems that this comes from the fact that Mayor Wasowicz had stated in the Southtown Star that it would be a special meeting to discuss the relocation of the Veteran’s Memorial, but the evening left most residents feeling as though they had been put through a bait and switch.   Upon entering you were handed a copied sheet of “Facts” and one might want to note kindly to the village board to actually look up the definition of facts in the dictionary as some things on this list did not meet the definition. It was nice to see that they did reserve the first two rows for the local Veteran’s to sit in but that seems to be where the niceties for the evening ended.

 The Mayor stated that he would allow the veteran’s to speak first, and then the residents, and would like everyone to keep it within a two minute time frame; even though Trustee Bartoszek was given ample time to read a letter that she felt was pertinent to the matter to the entire audience.   Village resident Joe Egas treasurer of the Senior Club and Vietnam Veteran presented the board with over 200 signatures from Village residents against the moving of the memorial, he also gave a well spoken statement with many questions that people in town have been asking that were not answered, or poorly answered. Why do we need to rename the park when we already have a Veteran’s Park? Why do we have Trustees voting on this when they have relatives seated on the park board?  The only two Veteran’s in the room that spoke in favor of the memorial are both current employees of the Village and long time Wasowicz supporters who rudely  called out at the residents “Where have you been during the last few ceremonies?” One resident was heard to call back “How dare you! At the cemetery visiting my father who was a Veteran!” 

Park board Consultant Joe Vallez gave a presentation which outlined an expensive and expansive array of upgrades to the parks including new playground equipment, resurfacing the basketball courts and other improvements and then moving into the new drawing of the “improved” Veteran’s memorial.  Overwhelmingly the majority of the sentiment in the room was to leave the memorial in its current location, not to say that the gesture was not nice, but that with their input it is not something that was needed or wanted by them and not for the reasons that the board is giving.  The biggest question on the mind of the Vet’s was “How much is this going to cost the Village?” Trustee Bartoszek kept saying “It’s not going to cost the village anything.” Then in turn it was asked “How much is this going to cost the park district?” At this point the only figure quoted for sure is at least $1300 to relocate the stone not including their plans to install lights, flagpoles, benches, and other improvements. When one Veteran asked how far in debt the park district was and was quoted a sum of over $300,000 he replied with “We don’t need it then!”   Many of the seniors in the audience were heard to remark that this is not how they want their tax dollars spent when there is a perfectly good memorial already in town.

One former resident with the help of many others was able to force their way to speak and give a very passionate argument that this memorial is “Our memorial” that belongs to the people of this town, the people that collected the money door to door back in 1971 and it should not be moved unless this is something that the people want to happen as they are the ones that raised the effort, time and funds to put it there. She also openly challenged Trustee Bartoszek’s comment that the memorial stood “Unattended for over 30 years” by stating that she comes four times a year to change the flowers on behalf of her mother and has the decorations in her vehicle, and further stated that when her nephew tried to maintain the stone and cut some of the bushes back he was questioned and ran off by Village employees.

The Mayor called for a 10 minute recess and had left several residents standing waiting to make comments, some of whom had historical data that they wished to share with the board. When they returned the residents were informed  by Trustee Bartoszek that unlike the information given in the Southtown Star, this meeting was scheduled to view a presentation, and that no further comments would be taken, and the village would be moving forward with the relocation of the memorial.  Needless to say this left many residents feeling as though they were part of an elaborate shell game courtesy of the open and transparent administration Mayor Wasowicz so frequently reminds us that he heads.

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