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Fairborn Veterans Memorial may move after crashes, protests

Dayton Daily News - 7/17/2022

Jul. 17—FAIRBORN — Talks are underway about rebuilding or moving the Fairborn Veterans Memorial, which has been in city's center since being dedicated in the 1980s.

The military monument in the Main Street/Central Avenue intersection has been hit by automobiles a few times in the past two years, officials said.

A June 2021 crash caused significant damage, closing the intersection for several hours and causing the removal of the memorial's flagpole, officials said.

"It sticks out in the road and we need to do something different there," Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller said of the memorial. "But we want to make sure that we include the veterans' organizations in that process."

The memorial's location does present traffic safety issues, American Legion Post 526 Commander John Dugan said.

"If you want to look at the monument close up, you have to dodge traffic to get out there," said the Air Force vet, who served his last tour at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "There might be other places where it might be safer for the general public to view the monument."

Before any decision is made, Dugan said, public meetings are needed because veterans' groups have "strong feelings" about the monument.

Attempts to reach the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6861 for this report were unsuccessful.

In recent weeks, the circular structure honoring the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard was the focus of protestors, prompting more concern.

Fairborn resident Mike Uecker told city leaders earlier this month he was "sort of appalled" by the "desecration" of the memorial during a protest, calling the gathering "disorderly and sacrilegious."

Similar sentiments were expressed by council members.

Mary Reaster said she supports peaceful protests, but when they "take to standing on monuments — public or not — that honor those who have served this community and our country to keep our freedoms and even the freedom to protest, the message of the protest has been devalued."

Relocating or rebuilding the vets' memorial is planned as part of the Main Street/Central Avenue project, Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson said.

Using $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, the city is looking to redesign the intersection's center "to minimize the potential for future damage," Anderson said in an email recently.

A potential site for the monument would be Memorial Park, which is planned near the city building on Hebble Avenue, Keller said.

Fairborn officials have set aside $500,000 in ARPA money for the park's construction. The park is also getting $75,000 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, state records show.

The city plans to bid the project with hopes of starting construction by this fall, according to Anderson.


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