Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fate of Veterans' Memorial Could Be Decided Tonight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fate of Veterans' Memorial Could Be Decided Tonight

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Galnor, Times-Union staff writer

The timeline for a decision on the fate of the Duval County Veterans' Memorial Wall is becoming more unclear by the day.

A vote could come tonight or be delayed as long as two months.

The only sure thing is there will be a public hearing on the emotionally volatile issue during tonight's City Council meeting.

A new arena, funded by the Better Jacksonville Plan, will replace the Coliseum in mid-2003, isolating the wall from the new complex. Discussions on the location of the wall have been ongoing for months.

One possibility, which has the support of more than half the council, would be to leave the wall where it is and build a 1-acre park around it.

Mayor John Delaney, however, wants to wait for architectural renderings on three new locations to come back -- which could be up to two months -- before the council makes a final decision. Two other options under consideration are moving the wall adjacent to the new arena or placing it about 50 feet from the new arena.

The public hearing, however, concerns a bill that would mandate the city not move the wall, which bears the names of 1,583 Duval County residents killed in war. That bill is not scheduled for a vote until March 12.

Yet Councilwoman Faye Rustin said she may ask the council to take it up as an emergency tonight so family members do not have to again go through the tear-jerking, emotional roller coaster they went through while speaking Feb. 12, when the council first discussed the issue.

Rustin insists she's not trying to skirt any public input, though several colleagues say they prefer to wait before making a decision.

"The families feel like it would be moving a grave and you just don't do that," Rustin said. "This is so emotional to people that have relatives on that wall and we want those people to be assured we're not going to move it. …

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