Model of Charters of Freedom exhibit on display in Libertyville: Should it stay?
For the next 30 days, visitors to Cook Park in downtown Libertyville can view a full-scale model of the Charters of Freedom exhibit patterned after one in Washington, D.C.
They're also being asked what they think about making the custom-built display, which holds copied replicas of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, a permanent part of the popular park.
"Now, people will give us their opinions," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "I think that's what the (village) board was looking for. We've been vocal on both sides, so we want to get input from a lot of people."
A survey on the village website asks visitors whether they favor the exhibit being donated and placed in Cook Park or another location. If the latter, a space is provided for suggestions or comment.
The exhibit took about six weeks to build and is composed of three wooden cases painted gray, sealed and protected with Plexiglas. It was delivered Wednesday morning by the nonprofit Founders 55, which proposes to donate a permanent display made of marble or sandstone with the documents bronzed with raised lettering at an estimated cost of $125,000.
"We want to impact people's lives in a positive way -- to lift up leaders," said Roch Tranel, a local businessman and co-founder of the group.
The exhibit, he said, could empower generations of students throughout the region and others who can't make it Washington.
"I'll let the documents speak for themselves," he said. "We're very proud."
Jay Cash, the other co-founder, had the documents printed through his company, Signarama, and the cases were built by a carpenter at TopTec heating and cooling, where original member Joe Salhani is president.
Cash said the documents signed by the founding founders are a reminder of what has been lost in this country over the years.
"This has nothing to do with politics of any kind. It's all patriotism," he said. "This is the best country in the world, bar none."
The original proposed location was in another area of the popular park, but it was shifted to a location visible from the window of the adjoining Cook Park Library.
The village board in April unanimously authorized the temporary installation of a "realistic" model.
"The idea is, let's find out what the residents want," Weppler said. Village trustees will review the comments and determine whether to accept the gift.
Within an hour of its placement, a few glanced at the display, others took a closer look and some walked by without stopping.
"We didn't anticipate seeing this here," said Carrie Groth, who brought her kids to the park for a library program. "This is a little something extra to see while we're down here."
Founders 55's vision, the proposal says, is for visitors to reflect on the country's history and be inspired to serve in their homes, community and the world.
"If I can get one family to stop watching TV to look at this, I'll be happy, too," Cash said.