More opinionating about war memorials

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I’ve written recently about the charette discussion about ‘amalgamating’ war memorials in Civic Park. 

I think it’s so important that residents hear about these plans early, before they turn into an idea that won’t go away so I sent a media release this morning about it. 

I think moving war memorials is disrespectful and while I’m absolutely certain that this is not at all what was intended by those who came up with the idea, that’s how I interpret it. 

The Federal Government provide funds to restore or relocate war memorials under certain conditions. While any commonwealth funds are something to be grateful for they would, I’m sure, not cover the cost of relocating any memorial. 

‘What is eligible? 
 
 
 

Grants of up to $3,000 are available for projects such as: 
preservation and display of wartime memorabilia 
commemoration of significant wartime anniversaries and unit reunions
 

 
school initiatives 
publishing unit wartime histories where none exists.
 

 
Grants of up to $4,000 are available for:
 
 

 
refurbishment or update of existing memorials 
construction of new war memorials
 

 
improvement of access to and safety of the immediate surrounds of existing community memorials 
restoration of commemorative plaques and honour boards or new commemorative plaques and honour boards for public display.’  

  

 

From ‘Saluting their Service Commemorations Grants Program’ – DVA Fact Sheet GS 14

 
  
 
 
 

 

 

This is what I sent out today: 

‘Media Release 

Will the Memorial Grove be moved from the Art Gallery corner of Civic Park 

 With Anzac Day almost upon us it’s timely to alert veterans and their families as well as the residents of Newcastle to a plan put forth by council consultants to ‘amalgamate’ the war memorials in Civic Park and remove the memorial grove near the art gallery. 

A community workshop was recently held by Newcastle City Council to discuss the proposed ‘redesign’ of Laman Street and Civic Park. 

This followed Council’s 2009 recommendation to fell the iconic avenue of 80-year-old Hill’s figs. This was delayed after a successful rescission motion put forward by Councillor Nuatali Nelmes in December 2009 and because of community outcry at the prospect of another Tyrrell Street where similar canopy trees were lost. 

The Lord Mayor moved that the workshop would not just be about Laman Street trees but would take in the whole ‘precinct’. 

At the design workshop in March and April it was suggested by external consultants that the three memorials in Civic Park could be amalgamated at the Auckland Street end of Civic Park to create a ‘ceremonial’ part of the park with a ‘meditative’ feel. 

They proposed that the Cenotaph be moved from the axis between the Town Hall and the fountain, to sit closer to the Vietnam Memorial and that the statue and plaques in the now-sheltered memorial grove at the corner of Darby and Laman Streets. 

The consultants’ preliminary plans were supposed to reflect the ideas of charette attendees. 

Most people at the workshop were vocal in their disagreement with the suggested relocation of the memorials and there was surprise  that it appeared on the plans at the conclusion of the workshop. 

The other item interpreted incorrectly by the organisers was the rail line: there was minimal discussion about this and no desire expressed by the group that the rail line should be cut but on day two (of three) it was put forward as a suggestion. 

The plans show the grove being replaced with a sculpture garden to ‘enhance’ the planned Art Gallery extension.  

The RSL were represented at the charette and pointed out that many organisations would need to be involved in any discussion of relocating the grove. 

None of the memorials in the park are at risk in their current locations and all are in good condition. 

The public should demand pressing reasons for any relocation. Making it easier to remove the fig trees is not an adequate reason, and the grove enhances the street and art gallery rather than detracting from it. 

The grove is not obstructing the Art Gallery extension as this is on the Darby Street side and rear of the gallery. 

Relocating war memorials is an even more emotive issue than felling trees and in Laman Street that hasn’t been a simple issue. This proposal is likely to upset many people. Removing the memorial grove would be a sad loss.’ 

The story was followed up by three radio stations. 

Preliminary Civic Park plan No 1 from the charette

This picture is the first of the two plans that were shown to charette attendees on the last day of the design workshop. (Sorry about the folds: this is the one that was sent by mail to all of us before the plenary session. I should ask my technical assistant aka child to photoshop the folds out.) 

Civic Park preliminary plan no 2

I’ll upload them to photobucket where you’ll be able to see them in more detail. 

On ABC radio today the Council said there will be many more trees in Civic Park than there are now. 

Excellent. 

Just because I don’t see them on the preliminary plan doesn’t mean it won’t happen. 

 And just because I don’t see a commemorative part of the park at the western/Auckland St end doesn’t mean it will happen. 

And just because I don’t see evidence on the plans of the memorial grove in its current position doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that it will be moved. 

I recall the council’s arborist reassuring me in November 2009 that it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the Laman Street figs would be removed. Why wasn’t I reassured?                                        Home

  

Huge congratulations – no bins: looks beautiful

More congratulations: the fountain in the memorial grove was working on the weekend

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