Veterans Day this year will be specially marked with a rededication ceremony for the War Memorial Cannon following approval regarding its location to Central Park from theTurlock City Council.
“We are happy. It’s a good plan,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Mike Seward. “Parks and Recreation came up with a great proposal and it gives the cannon the recognition it deserves.”
Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Allison Van Guilder said that after the City of Turlock sold the 900 N. Palm Avenue properties, which previously held the War Memorial Cannon, to Turlock Irrigation District earlier this year, the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission convened with the public in May to evaluate several locations that could potentially house the cannon.
“Representatives from local military groups were in attendance and we had a fruitful discussion about what our options were,” said Van Guilder.
After ultimately deciding that Central Park was the prime location for the cannon, the Commission held a public hearing in June proposing the relocation. For this meeting, property owners within 1,000 feet of Central Park were notified about the hearing and invited to provide their input regarding the potential location.
“We did not have any comments at that hearing,” said Van Guilder.
Following the public hearing, the Commission voted unanimously to recommend the relocation of the cannon to Central Park and on Tuesday the Turlock City Council echoed their approval regarding the location by voting to move forward with the proposed project.
American Legion First Vice Commander Brad Becker said that AL members were also in support of the location and concept, although they would like to see flags and flag poles incorporated at some point in the future.
“I think there is an opportunity to redesign and incorporate some of those elements through the design process,” said Turlock City Council Member Bill DeHart Jr.
A collaborative design process like what DeHart Jr. is referring to is exactly what the city can expect according to Van Guilder, who reported that although the memorial will only include a raised concrete platform, surrounding sidewalk, fencing and lighting at this time, there are plans to add more embellishments as the budget permits.
“The idea is that we’ll work with our local military groups to come up with design standards and then see if there are things that we can essentially phase in at a later date,” said Van Guilder.
Although Disabled American Veterans Commander Andrew Mojarras joined other Turlock veterans with his endorsement of the cannon’s new home, he also addressed the need to make sure the cannon stayed in Turlock.
“This is the main concern that most of the groups have,” said Mojarras. “The cannon is for the city of Turlock to be able to express appreciation and patriotism and we want to create some sort of safeguard so it doesn’t just get sold or go away.”
“We want to make sure that the cannon won’t get sold like how the War Memorial Building got sold to TID,” continued Mojarras.
One way that Mojarras suggested to prevent the cannon from being sold in the future was to make military organizations, such as VFW, AL, and DAV, co-owners of the historic cannon. This would mean that the city would have to consult with them prior to taking any action. Together, the groups agree to keep the cannon at Central Park for public viewing.
“I don’t want anybody to get the impression that we want to own the cannon ourselves,” clarified Mojarras. “It doesn’t matter who owns it, we just want to assure that the cannon stays within the city of Turlock and doesn’t get sold down the road.”
Although Mayor Gary Soiseth noted that the topic of ownership was not included in Tuesday’s City Council Agenda and therefore could not be addressed, he encouraged Mojarras to work with city staff in order to come up with a solution that would then be brought up at a later date.