Members of the South Russell Village Veterans’ Memorial Park committee are preparing to present proposals for construction of a memorial to Village Council on Dec. 11. The goal is to have the memorial installed by June 14, 2020.
Plans call for 25-foot flag poles marking military services of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy as well as a 35-foot pole with the U.S. flag.
Locations being considered for the memorial include the South Russell Village Park on Bell Road, Village Hall property, the southwest corner of Bell and Chillicothe (Route 306) roads, the village cemetery and the front lawn of the police station.
Among the matters discussed include whether the Ohio flag, the POW and MIA flag will be flown. Also under discussion is whether to fly a Merchant Marines flag and create a South Russell Village flag. The village will be celebrating its centennial in 2023.
Officials also will decide if outside funding will be sought from groups including the VFW and the South Russell Village Women’s Club.
Boy Scout Charlie Kukla, as part of his Eagle Scout project, is proposing to place an engraved rock at the base of the U.S. flag pole. He gave a presentation Oct. 28 and will return for the Nov. 11 meeting to discuss the project.
South Russell Councilman Ray Schloss said of the memorial, “I think it’s going to be a wonderful project. It will be a great addition to the village.
Some have said the Bell Road site could be too close to private homes. “My preference would be in the village cemetery on Route 306,” he said.
“We have a couple of great locations. We need more resident input and we are going to reach out to them,” Mr. Schloss said.
At the Oct. 28 village council meeting, Mayor William Koons noted comments from committee members. Jim Finley, the Chagrin Falls Fire Marshal and VFW member, said he likes the village park location and his second choice would be the southwest corner of Bell and Chillicothe (Route 306) roads.
A resident said he does not favor the community park. The memorial would have more exposure at the intersection of Bell Road and Route 306 and could clutter the village park.
Robin Rood said she likes the Village Hall location either in front of the Russell Police Station or behind the building.
Resident Bob Royer said he favored the village park location because visitors are drawn to the park for events.
Council members Cindy Nairn, Mark Porter and Gerald Canton are also on the committee.
Mr. Canton said the best location is the village park, but it could affect the people who live across from the park on Bell Road. Officials should be mindful of the residents, he said. “I realize we have to make a decision even though it alienates some constituents.”
Mr. Porter said he believes the village park and the southwest corner at Bell and Chillicothe roads would be good. The park has the advantage of easy access; however, there is the issue of a conservation easement on the property, he said.
There is a U.S. flag on a pole at the corner now with a plaque and it is illuminated, Mr. Porter noted. “I think that might be the right place.”
While the village general fund will be used to create the memorial, donations would be welcome, Mr. Porter said.
Mrs. Nairn said she was surprised to learn about the residents’ concerns about the memorial being in the village park. She noted that the park provides green space and vistas. There is already a lot in the park. “I think we should look elsewhere.”
Councilman Mike Carroll said he likes the corner of Bell and Chillicothe roads and the village cemetery. There are good options and “shoehorning it in the village park would not be good,” he said.
Councilman Dennis Galicki said three citizens approached him and expressed concerns about using the park that could end up the “Disneyland of South Russell” if too many things are located there.
Village memorial park committee members working on the project are village property committee council members Mr. Canton and Mr. Porter, Council Member Cindy Nairn, former street commissioner Darrell Johnson, Chagrin Falls Fire Marshal and VFW member Jim Finley, residents Linda Mattern, Vince Massa, Robin Rood and Kelly Kimball and resident, veteran and village police officer Eric Kimball. Joining in the discussions during the year were residents Tom Hanculak, Charlie McGibony, Bob Royer and Ralph Burr.