ALLENDALE, Mich. — After about two hours of passionate public commentary on Monday night, Allendale Township Supervisor Adam Elenbaas said the township board plans to keep the current Civil War statue in Allendale Community Park.
The board decided not to vote on the matter Monday evening and instead called a special meeting Tuesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. where they will cast their votes.
"Our protocol is to discuss a major issue at one meeting and then come back to the following meeting to formally vote," Elenbaas said.
While Elenbaas said all board members stated their personal opinions to keep the statue, he said the plan to work towards a resolution maintaining the structure was through the "overwhelming majority" of their constituents.
"We're just your neighbors. We're just the guy that lives down the road and we're in the position right now where we're taking up a very volatile issue in the United States," he said. "That's why it was so important for us to make sure that we had the input from the community members as to how they wanted us to handle this issue."
However, changes could still be coming to both the statue and the memorial garden it sits in. Elenbaas said he wants to bring multicultural groups together, including students from Grand Valley State University, to create a mindful, inclusive community moving forward.
"We said that we want to pursue an educational element to all of the statues as well, whether that's a plaque or interactive experience, but a way that people can get a deeper understanding to the meaning behind not just the Civil War statue, but the others that are in our memorial as well," he said.
Elenbaas said he was thankful for the bigger discussions that came out of the statue's debate and will continue to keep those issues in mind.
"There's a hurt that's a lot deeper than just statues and what some people take their meaning to be versus what others take their meaning to be. I've found in the last week and a half that this has really sparked a lot of really, really good conversations, and that's an element that coming out of the board meeting I'm following up on," he said.
The township board will make their official vote on Tuesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. inside Allendale Township's auditorium.
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