The Spokane Park Board will vote today on guidelines for the potential relocation of the Inland Northwest Vietnam Veterans Memorial from Riverfront Park to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Some veterans groups have argued that the memorial, first installed on a grassy hill in Riverfront Park in 1985, should be integrated with the rest of the city’s veterans memorials at the Spokane Arena.
The move requires a project plan and feedback from the community, including a signed petition and public forums with veterans and their families. According to the resolution, the move would not be approved unless there is overwhelming community support.
Leroy Eadie, Parks and Recreation director, said the department also plans to rededicate the memorial whether or not it’s moved to a new location. He said the guidelines the board may approve today are designed to clarify their expectations regarding any plan to move the memorial to a new location.
John Cooper, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 879, said its organization was one of the groups supporting the move. He said when the memorial was originally built, most Vietnam veterans were in their 40s. Now, as Vietnam veterans are aging, some have mobility issues that make it difficult to access their own memorial.
He said he doesn’t have a huge issue with the current location.
“It’s a beautiful spot all by itself,” he said. “In 1985, maybe that was a good thing. Thirty-five years later, it’s hard to get in there and we’d like to be integrated with the rest of the vet memorials.”
Cathrene Nichols, the Veterans Services director for Spokane County, said she doesn’t know how much it would cost to move the memorial, but the county does have some money to use for repairs or relocation. She has also applied for a grant through the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs which could be used in either case.
The Park Board will hold its meeting at 3:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the basement level of City Hall.
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