Opposes moving veterans park

To the residents of the city of Starke and Bradford County:

I am a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran, an active member of American Legion Post 56 and VFW Post 10082. Since 2003, the city has owned and maintained the Charles J. Schaffer Veteran’s Memorial Park on Call Street next to the city square. It is a centralized and visible location to visit and honor America’s veterans. It includes several granite memorials, a brick walkway honoring individual veterans and flags of the military branches. I drive by it regularly as do many of you. I stop at the park to enjoy the area and honor the veterans of Bradford County and all veterans. 

The Starke City Commission has decided that the park will be moved to an area of land down Edwards Road across from the ballfields. This project was presented at our monthly meeting of local American Legion Post 56 by two members of the city government a few months ago. The Legion voted that we did not want the memorial park to be moved. After that meeting, as legion members, we understood that our opinion of the project mattered. 

Evidently, that is not the case. The city voted at their council meeting on April 18 to approve resolution 2023-33 despite known dissent from local veterans and Legion Post 56, citing “altered traffic patterns will substantially diminish and disrupt the ability” to visit the park as the issue. The resolution states that the park is “no longer located in a place befitting the honor deserved by those who served their country by military service.” 

Is being across from the ballfield a fitting place? There is parking available on Call Street and on the next corner in front of the city square. The sidewalks are accessible for handicapped individuals to get to the park. 

I personally asked what the city was going to do with the current park property and did not receive an answer. Some kind of plan on the city’s part must be prompting this move. What is more meaningful for this parcel than a public park dedicated to veterans? 

The resolution also includes the statement “temporary relocation.” Does this leave the door open to relocate again? Electric power to the park has already been removed with no heads-up notification offered by the city as we prepared for the annual Memorial Day service to honor our deceased veterans. 

When you thank a veteran and appreciate our patriotic commitment, realize that our service is less valued by city of Starke officials as the memorial park is relocated.

Artis Rix

U.S. Army Veteran