Royal Oak veterans upset over planned move of war memorial during park redesign

A public park redesign in Royal Oak is stirring controversy over plans to move a memorial honoring veterans.

The city's decision to move the Veterans War Memorial would keep it in the same part of the town, adjusting its location within the area. 

But even a small relocation is too much for the area veterans, many who feel the decisions to move the memorial were done without input from the community.

Labeling the decision a "total disregard for the will of the people" on Save The Veterans Memorial website, activists say they'll attempt a ballot initiative in hopes of superseding any decision from the city council.

"To defend the memorial, a joint effort of veteran organizations and citizens plan a show of strength by filing a ballot petition with the first 300 plus signatures with the City Clerk on Tuesday...," read a Monday release from the group.

The current site of the memorial, located between city hall and the public library at the Royal Oak Centennial Park, was approved and paid for back in 2007 with donations from area businesses and service organizations. 

Under plans from Royal Oak, the memorial would be moved about 40 feet from its original site, closer to the street. The current layout of the park would be replaced by two grass sections with a sidewalk splitting through the middle. There would be a public restroom, a fountain, more gardens, and larger sidewalks on the edges. The Veterans War Memorial would be relocated next to the Stardream Plaza.

Royal Oak gave unanimous approval to the park redesign in August 2020. It will cost about $4.5 million and construction was expected to start later this spring.

In hopes of raising awareness and outcry about the decision, Royal Oak veterans spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning and will gather ballots to submit to the city, in hopes of changing the plan.