The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 4, 2014

Fulton officials to discuss memorials

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — FULTON, Ill. — City officials in Fulton may begin formal discussion on adopting a policy that monitors and regulates how residents and families memorialize their loved ones within the city.

Currently the city has no such official policy on file but after a request came to honor a former Fulton resident at the city’s new projected park in the Third Ward, Mayor Larry Russell suggested on Monday during a City Council meeting that the city look at developing a public policy.

“Ed (Cannon) and I were talking about this and we really don’t have a policy for that,” said Russell in regard to a conversation he had with Cannon. “We must have had in the past a tree planting or a bench that’s been donated in somebody’s honor in somebody’s name and we’ve done that regardless. (But) I think we’re talking about a little larger policy of what would be acceptable.”

The initial request that ignited the conversation came from the Van Damme family whose mother and father, Doug and Linda Van Damme, previously resided on the property that is being transformed into the community park.

To allow family members who still live in the Fulton area to remember their relatives by visiting the park, Linda and Doug’s daughter-in-law Joan asked the City Council if the family could put a park bench or plaque there honoring their names.

“(Their) grandchildren still live in Fulton and Morrison, (Illinois), and we thought how great it would be if they could go to the park and remember (them),” said Joan in an e-mail to the Herald. “And then when they have children, they could also go and the adults could go and reflect back.”

The council unanimously agreed that honoring past residents and their families is something they would like to continue, but thought regulating the policy would be in their best interest.

Two suggestions that were brought forth during the council meeting included approving the requests on an individual basis or creating a comprehensive list of possibilities such as park benches, trees or plaques that would be labeled as appropriate memorials.

“I think that would be good, on an individual basis that we approve and not have to put that on the staff to say yes or no,” Fourth Ward Alderman Randy Boonstra said.

Cannon added that he also had some other suggestions that he found while researching what other cities do but reiterated that setting some standards was something the city needs to investigate.

The number one thing he found that most cities abide by is that once a memorial reaches its lifespan that would end the city’s commitment to that memorial.

“All the policies I’ve seen is through the life of that piece of equipment,” he said. “If that equipment is a tree, if the tree dies or is struck by lightning, it gets removed and the memorial goes away at that point.”

While Monday’s discussion was only that, a discussion, and no formal action was taken, the City Council stressed that following up with a memorial policy is something it will continue to pursue in the near future.