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Left: The WWII monument commemorating the Northside’s 23rd Ward currently sits at Sandusky and E. Commons streets. (Photo by Kelsey Shea)
The relocation of a World War II monument in the Allegheny Commons Park nine years ago is creating a stir among Northside veterans this month.
The memorial, which commemorates the World War II veterans from the 23rd Ward, currently sits at East Commons and Sandusky streets, where it was moved in 2002 from its previous location at the entrance to the park at the corner of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue.
Korean War Veteran and former Northside resident Bill Hill believes that the new location is disrespectful to the veterans whose names are on the monument, including a friend of his Jack Kieffer who won a bronze star in Okinawa in 1945 and passed away in 2009.
“There’s a lot of people we know on that monument,” said Hill. “This just isn’t right.”
Hill started a committee at the Elks Club Lounge American Legion to pressure the City to move the monument back to its original location in part to commemorate his friend Jack and Jack’s brother who died in France in 1945.
“If you want to see it now, you have to go find it… It should be back where it belongs,” said Adam Antczak, who is a 23rd Ward WWII Veteran whose name is engraved on the memorial. He told the American Legion he remembered signing up for the service in the Northside just after he turned 17 in the Northside in 1944.
The monument was moved in 2002 as a part of the Allegheny Commons Initiative’s plan to revert Allegheny Commons largely to its original landscaping and footprint designed 1935.
The city approved the relocation of the monument in November of 2002, and it was moved soon after.
Lynn Glorieux, of the Allegheny Commons Initiative and the East Allegheny Community Council said that the memorial’s spot at the corner of Cedar and East Ohio Street was problematic.
She said there were people defecating behind the memorial, drunks sitting on it and liquor bottles left on top of it. She also said flowers were left there for weeks at a time, and no one would clean them up. Its position also interfered with the walking path of the park’s master plan.
“It was not only not a respectful place, but it was a disrespectful place [for the monument],” Glorieux said.
“I don’t know where the hell this country has gone if we’re letting people like that dictate our way of life,” said Bill Hill about littering around the monument.
Glorieux said Allegheny Commons has taken no official position on moving the monument, but would personally be very “wary” to do so.
Part of the problem that Morton Brown, City of Pittsburgh public arts manager, sees with the current location of the monument is not visibility or accessibility, but rather that the monument does not sit in the 23rd Ward whose soldiers it commemorates, but instead in the 22nd Ward, which begins at Cedar Avenue and encompasses the entire park.
“In my opinion, it’s highly visible where it is. It’s placed similarly to how others are placed throughout the city. I’m not saying if that’s a necessarily a good or bad thing,” said Brown. “I think the correct thing to do is to move it into the correct ward.”
Another obstacle Bill Hill, the American Legion committee and the City must face is the cost of moving the monument, which Morton estimates could be as much as $20,000, though he noted that grants for such projects were often available.
Morton and City public works plan to sit down with the monument committee from the American Legion to discuss the possible relocation of the monument into the 23rd Ward.
He said they will sit down with a map of the 23rd Ward and look for publicly owned greenspace where the monument could be relocated, though he said he doesn’t see many options.
Morton said community input will be important in the process, and that the City is willing to discuss many options.