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Allendale Township board considering new options for Civil War statue

The options were presented Monday night during a board meeting conducted virtually over Zoom.

ALLENDALE CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Allendale Township Board unanimously voted Monday to hold five more meetings for the Garden of Honor Memorial Committee to discuss the future of a Civil War statue in the Allendale Community Park that has been the source of debate for months.

The current statue in the park's Garden of Honor shows an enslaved African American child reaching for freedom at the feet of a Union solider and a Confederate soldier. Since the discussion about the statue began, it has been vandalized multiple times.

The board voted last summer to allow the statue to stay up for the time being, and they created a statue committee to help come up with ideas for the future of the statue.

The board is considering three of the committee's possible solutions, which were presented by committee member Lisa Feurzeig Monday:

  • Replace the current statue with an abstract monument in the shape of a column. It would not show the likenesses of people, but would instead include quotations on each side to represent various perspectives on the Civil War.
  • Replace the current statue with a statue of Benjamin Jones, an escaped slave who settled in Ottawa County and served in the Union Army, representing African American strength.
  • Leave the current statue with possible repairs and surround it with a Plexiglas screen on which various thoughts about the Civil War and possibly commentary on the statue itself would be inscribed.

The board took public comment during Monday's meeting. None of the callers who spoke were supportive of the current statue and many of them expressed approval for the idea of erecting a statue of Benjamin Jones in its place.

A schedule for the five future meetings has not yet been set.

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