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Veterans, Janesville to discuss future of Traxler Park

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 23, 2011
— The Janesville Patriotic Society will take plans for a patriotic center in Traxler Park to the city council after receiving a negative recommendation from the plan commission, city staff and the city manager.

The commission and staff—while favoring the concept and the general location—believe the plan uses too much of the open space needed for other special events. They recommend the proposed monuments be grouped on the far north end of the park, where the current Veterans Plaza is built.


Tom Stehura, a member of the patriotic society, disagrees, saying a proposed walkway would enhance the open space by making it more accessible to the handicapped and to event organizers.


The society has outlined proposed walkways with flags so council members can visualize its plans. The group wants to build four monuments and paved walkways south of the current memorial plaza and north of the park’s main parking lot.


Traxler Park hosts such special events as the city’s 4th of July celebration, regional and national water ski tournaments for the Rock Aqua Jays, the Renaissance Fair and the Rotary Corn Roast and volleyball tournament.


These events draw anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand people, said Duane Cherek of the city’s planning department. For some, nearly all of the space available in the park is used to provide parking, exhibits, tents, vendor stands, amusement rides, games, space for equipment or a place to congregate.


One the park’s greatest assets is the availability of open space, Cherek said. The area located immediately north of the parking lot is commonly used as a staging spot to accommodate many of the special events and activities held in the park.


Staff is concerned the patriotic society’s plans would fragment that open space and make it more difficult for those hosting special events. Traffic also could expose the proposed monuments to damage.


The Janesville Noon Lions Club, which donated the parkland to the city, concurs with city staff. In a letter to the city, club officials wrote that the society’s plans:


-- Would remove a large area of general-use parkland for a largely exclusive use, due to the solemnity and respect such memorial grounds normally command.


-- Might negatively impact the willingness of groups to sponsor other large activities in the park.


-- Would put the memorials and other infrastructure at risk for possible flood damage.


The same goals could be accomplished with a smaller expansion, according to the letter.


Stehura said the society plans to install only four small monuments, and that the rest of the area would be grass and sidewalk. The sidewalk would connect the parking lot to the existing Medal of Honor Circle.


Stehura believes the sidewalks would enhance rather than dissect the open space.


Stehura added the society would work with city staff to make sure the monuments meet park criteria. One proposed monument is about 8 feet long, 2 feet wide and 4 feet high, he said.


“We’re not proposing to go in there and throw in a 50-foot square mausoleum or something,” Stehura said.


He also doesn’t believe residents would hesitate to tread on memorial grounds, calling that a “bogus” concern.


“We look at the monuments as a way to educate residents,” Stehura said.


On the agenda

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Items on the agenda include:


-- Recognition of the winners of the 2011 Sustainable Janesville Awards. They are Data Dimensions, Mocha Moment and Basics Co-operative. The committee honored the businesses because they have shown “exemplary” leadership in sustainability for years.


-- Action on a resolution requiring the Union Pacific Railroad to repair two at-grade crossings and petition the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads for an investigation of the repairs.


The city has informed the railroad of the need to reconstruct two crossings in the area of South Pearl and Johnson streets, both of which are being reconstructed this summer. The railroad wants the city to pay half the cost, or about $41,000. In the past, the city only had purchased concrete panels and provided traffic control at a cost of $15,000.



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