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Grand Haven's 'Public Works Monument' is a no-go; search is on for new location

Many community members were unhappy about the location and design.
Credit: City of Grand Haven
Drawing shows what would have been the Grand Haven Public Works Monument before the proposal was withdrawn by the city.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A planned public works monument in Grand Haven we told you about a few weeks ago has now been scrubbed. 

RELATED: 'A gift for everyone': Groundbreaking public works monument planned for Grand Haven

The monument was set to go near the boardwalk at the state park. While the concept was accepted and approved by city council, public reaction changed the course of the plan. Many community members were unhappy about the location and design. 

The city listened and that version and location is no more. 

Public Works Director Derek Gajdos said while the decision is disappointing, they are still working with the city to find an alternative location for the monument that best suits the requests of the entire city.

"We heard a lot of encouragement that the monument was a good idea, however some people thought there was a better location that could be proposed," Gajdos said. 

Gajdos said that some of the same concepts and designs will be kept as they now look for a new location.

Gajdos is also the Co-Chair of the Public Works Monument Committee representing the Midwest Branch of the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Gajdos wrote to Grand Haven's City Manager, Pat McGinnis, in a memorandum on May 26th. It read as follows:

"In 2019, the proposed National Public Works Monument was brought to the City Council to be placed in a "prominent place" along the City's water front. The City Council at the time, endorsed the plan and a committee was formed by the American Public Works Association, Midwest Branch of the Michigan Chapter, with local input. Fast forward to March 2021 and as the Design and Location Committee liaison, I proposed a location to the City Council at a City Council Work Session that was believed to match what the City Council desired and within the goal of a proposed National Monument's prestige. The proposal showed many views of a proposed monument in a prominent location along the City's water front. The City Council endorsed the plan with some specific site line requirements as to not affect neighboring residents. Since then, City residents and others have endorsed the plan for a monument, saying that it is a 'great idea to honor those that serve our nation in this capacity', yet have not endorsed this specific location as proposed."

"Therefore, due to the concerns raised over its location, the Committee withdraws the most recent request to the proposed monument. The Committee would like to continue to work with the City Council to come up with an agreed upon location for the monument that is, prominent in location, suits the City Council and its citizenry, and within the ideals of honoring the Nation's Public Works professionals. The monument was and is proposed to be a positive to the community and a benefit to the City, not a distraction or division. The honor and prestige that is owed to our country's first Public Works Monument, is not one that deserves controversy."

The City of Grand Haven released a statement regarding the situation on May 27th. It reads as follows:

"On April 12, 2021, City staff presented a concept to the Grand Haven City Council for a Public Works Monument to be located along the boardwalk between the State Park and Escanaba Park, along what is more commonly known as the Boardwalk Connector Park. City Council agreed with elements of the concept, including honoring our Public Works professionals, additional seating, barrier free access and updating worn out boardwalk ramps, while expressing concerns about impact on sight lines and natural vistas, and authorized further public discussion about the proposed installation."

"After careful examination of the site constraints, impact on public sight lines of the river, advice from members of Council, the City's Boards and Commissions, and due consideration of public feedback, the proposal for the Public Works Monument presented to Council is being withdrawn from consideration."

"Alternative locations away from the Boardwalk and alternative designs may be presented for public consideration at a future time. The City thanks everyone who offered advice and appreciates the engagement and passion of the people of Grand Haven for their community."

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