'Let's do something': After cemetery opposition, S. Barrington officials want to help veterans
Months after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced it no longer planned to establish a cemetery in South Barrington, the village board today will discuss the controversial proposal and ways to help local veterans.
One option could be supporting the search for a new veterans cemetery site elsewhere in the suburbs, Mayor Paula McCombie said. Another option could be offering services for veterans, such as assistance with financial matters or making medical appointments, she said.
"What can we do?" McCombie said. "Let's do something."
The board is set to meet at 3 p.m. at village hall, 30 S. Barrington Road.
The 15-acre site once eyed by the VA is near the southwest corner of Mundhank and Freeman roads. The VA's plan -- designed to provide burial options for veterans and their families in or near urban areas -- called for thousands of niches in walls for cremated remains.
The site would've been an extension of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet.
But the proposal drew many objections. McCombie and other critics said a veterans cemetery that would host multiple memorial rifle volleys each day was not appropriate for a site near homes.
They also said potential odors from a nearby, inactive landfill would render the property unfit for veterans and mourners.
In September 2020, the Veterans Affairs Department announced it had ceased pursuing the South Barrington site, saying the property no longer was available. Public real estate records indicate the property was sold that month.
No development plans have surfaced, McCombie said.
Despite opposing the VA's proposal, McCombie believes a new veterans cemetery is needed in the North or Northwest suburbs. She's even suggested other sites in the village and in other towns -- although she said communicating with the agency has been difficult.
Depending on how today's discussion goes, the board could draft a resolution or proclamation supporting the search for a new site, McCombie said.
Creating a local veterans assistance program, perhaps staffed by volunteers, could have value, too, she said.
"We want to do something that has real meaning," she said.
No final decisions will be made today. That could happen at the board's next gathering, on May 13.