St. Charles firefighters want to lift memorial to more prominent location
Standing in St. Charles' Baker Park, the monument to the members of the city's fire department is easy to dismiss without much attention. The stone memorial is surrounded by a flower garden. It's almost more reminiscent of a subdivision entry sign or a well-tended gravestone in an unusual place.
Now there's a movement to give the monument a more prominent place in the city, a standing worthy of the people it memorializes.
"Baker Park was much different in 1974 than it is currently," said Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet. "We would like to take a much greater opportunity to use the monument to have gatherings such as 9/11 remembrances, retirements and other fire department functions."
The plan is to move the monument to the redeveloped green space between city hall and the police station, which is now known as Volunteer Plaza. The location also stands directly across the street from the downtown fire station.
Fire department officials plan to contract with the original stoneworker to move the monument, add a new base and have the Firefighter's Prayer inscribed on the rear.
There would also be new benches, lighting, a flagpole and brick pavers added to a triangular section of the plaza where the monument would stand.
The positioning would allow for viewing of all sides of the monument and an ideal assembly location for the fire department members. The brick pavers will be inscribed with names of former members of the city fire department and future retirees.
The cost of the project is estimated at $29,500. All of the money, except for a small contingency, will come from funds outside the city budget.
When the city slashed paid-on-call firefighters from the budget during the recent recession, it left $7,500 in the fund. That money will be used for the project. The Foreign Fire Insurance Board will kick in up to $25,000. And the local firefighters' union is contributing $1,500 to the cause for a total potential pool of funds of $34,000.
Schelstreet said the St. Charles Park District is already on board with the change.
City aldermen asked no questions while giving the project tentative approval Monday night.