Group wants Grand Haven cross removed

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- In a 1962 photo from the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, you can see the large cross illuminated on top of Dewey Hill.

That cross was once used more often than it is today, and most of the year it can't be seen, because it's in the down position.

Ten Sundays each summer, though, a church pays the city to set the cross upright for Worship on the Waterfront.

"It is hydraulic, and it goes up," said Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb. "When it is over, push a button and it goes down. The stadium is rented by the church, and the cross is part of the rental of the whole waterfront stadium experience."

Mayor McCaleb says the city's minimal cost as it relates to the cross is included in the fee to rent Waterfront Stadium.

"It does not cost the taxpayers of the city anything," said the Mayor.

Last year, the church paid the city $1320 in rent.

Mayor McCaleb confirms she and the city have been asked to remove the cross.

"The most recent e-mail I got from someone is not from the city of Grand Haven," she said.

This month, the Facebook page "Remove The Grand Haven Cross" went active. It has 33 likes. WZZM 13 News contacted a person who claims to be responsible for the page, but that individual did not want to be interviewed. He does say he represents a group of Michigan citizens asking the city to remove the cross from the city property. The group says it believes the city's participation in raising and lowering the cross is "improper entanglement with religion."

"Usually it is people from out of the community, and they are offended and so they bring it up," she said. "We look at our policies and make sure that we are abiding by court decisions and that we are not being illegal in any way."

Mayor McCaleb says everyone should know the cross is the structure that becomes an anchor during the Coast Guard Festival.

The city does have an equal-access policy, making the cross available as the support structure for other non-commercial symbols.


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