Original park plan proceeds
After lengthy discussion, the Red Oak Park and Tree Board voted in favor of paying a $10,000 fee to Alley Poynter Maccietto Architecture for proposed Master Plan Improvements to Fountain Square Park.
The subject has been the topic of much community discussion spearheaded by Red Oak resident Carolyn Williams. Under the initial plan generated a few years ago, one of the updates discusses was the moving of the park’s monuments to the northeast corner of the park, an idea Williams did not agree with.
Williams hosted a public meeting Thursday, Sept. 1 to discuss the proposed plan, along with Alley Poynter Machietto architect Daric O’Neal. Following the meeting, Williams and some of the other community members who attended the Thursday meeting were also in the audience of the Park and Tree Board meeting, along with Red Oak Mayor Bill Billings and members of the Red Oak City Council.
Williams addressed the board, saying she didn’t understand why some of the designs, such as the moving of the monuments, needed to be so severe.
“If you visit other parks, you’ll find smaller, very-visible, podium-style items with the monuments. There’s concern about future conflict. We don’t want to think about that, but we’ve got a lot of room in the park. Do we really want to move everything? Why not honor what we’ve got?” Williams asked.
Williams added that most of the designs incorporated the park’s feature attraction, the fountain, but also took away from it. Williams also raised concerns over the Freedom Rock’s potential placement within the moved monuments to the northeast corner of the park.
“It definitely doesn’t belong in the middle of the monuments. The Freedom Rock is a tribute to every veteran, not just the ones who have passed away. The idea of moving all these memorials is just a pretty sad situation to me,” commented Williams.
Bill Drey said that he felt improvements needed to be done to the park, whether the monuments were moved or not.
“What improvements we do may need to be decided later until we come to a more detailed plan. Most of the public have said they don’t want the Freedom Rock incorporated with the memorials, and have told me their preference is to have it in the southwest corner of the square,” Drey said.
Billings addressed the board, saying he and Williams were both in attendance for the conceptual meetings and that the Court of Honor had voted to accept the plan in 2013.
“We have a letter supporting the plan from the court of honor, and the plan went back to Daric O’Neal for a concept. It’s a conceptual drawing, not a set-in-stone plan. The master plan was to create areas downtown and make improvements. The plan was brought to, and approved by the park board, and brought before the council and approved by the city council,” Billings said.
The delay in the project, Billings said, has been the funding. Billings said there was no telling which direction they were going, it was simply a part of progress. The placement of the Freedom Rock is not in the master plan, though Billings said it needed to be in a secure place.
“Emerson is a perfect example of a rock not in a very distinct place and not well monitored, and it’s already fallen into vandalism,” Billings said.
Billings added based on the amount of progress that has been made towards the project, and the fact that the plan had been approved by the council, park board, and Court of Honor, Billings felt it was irresponsible to slow the progress of the project.
“Am I saying it can’t be tweaked, or that it’s set in stone? No, I’m not. But not moving forward is like stopping the building projects downtown. This is for community pride,” commented Billings.
Williams said that the plan was approved in 2012, and the letter of support from the Court of Honor came in 2013. Williams questioned how the plan could be approved before the support or approval was given.
“We totally understand pride here. Things haven’t been good for quite some time. The idea of progress being to change something historic in our town does not make sense. That’s the big question that’s been asked. To not stop and consider what people are saying, is wrong,” Williams stated.
The consensus of park board members was that progress needed to me made and the plans needed to move forward. The approval of payment of the fee was passed by a 3-1 vote. Bill Drey cast the lone dissenting vote. Jessica DeMarce was not in attendance.