Four women spoke out during the public comment portion of the last Guntersville City Council meeting, saying they opposed the proposed location on Sunset Drive of the Marshall County Veterans Freedom Park.
The four were Sarah Martin, Mary Brewer, Judy Manning, and Emily Busby.
The gist of their comments was that they support veterans and they are for a park, but they don’t feel that is the proper space. They said they’d prefer to keep that a “green space,” although keeping the space green is part of what the veterans park committee has planned all along.
Martin went first.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms I am a patriotic supporter of the military and grateful for all who have served and are serving our country,” she said. “I am here to enjoy one of the freedoms our soldiers protect, freedom of speech.
“This is not a casual decision regarding the walking trail green space. Now is the time for concerned people to speak. I am concerned the governing body has not sought input from concerned citizens. Is this a done deal? I have been assured it definitely is not.
“I am not against a veterans memorial at all,” she continued. “I am against the location. This area is one of the last unobstructed views of the Tennessee River on the peninsula. It is a beautiful area used for multiple events. I have witnessed weddings, receptions, family gatherings, large reunions and people on blankets enjoying the beauty and openness of this property.
“Of course it is a desirable location for anyone’s chosen project. Not too many years ago, it was designated for a dog park. Thank goodness a more suitable location for that project was found.”
She suggested the city and the veterans committee look to other areas for the park: the flag pole area entering the city from the north, the bluff area of Lurleen Wallace Drive, the field with the beautiful tree across the street from this location or County Park No. 1 near the RSVP building.
“Why should Guntersville give up this green space?” she concluded. “Why should people be denied use of this one-of-a-kind green space as it is for our citizens as well as our visitors? It complements our walking trail as nothing else can.”
Mary Brewer was next and she focused in on County Park No. 1 as what she felt was the best location for the veterans park.
“County Park No. 1 is really better set up for it with restrooms, picnic tables and shelters,” she said. “The city owns the space in front of Publix and that would be another great location for it. Sunset Drive is not the best place for it. I hope these decisions are not already made.”
Judy Manning of 1105 Sunset Drive said she bet she was the only person there who lives next to the walking trail.
“I am a huge supporter of the walking trail,” she said. “We have such interactive activities on the walking trail. We have pickleball courts. We have two wonderful parks that were donated. We have the Rotary Cabin people can rent for things. We have covered pavilions and the Jeff Cook stage. All those things are available.
“This is one of those things like when you are taking a test and it says which of these 4 answers does not fit. The park for veterans doesn’t quite fit our walking trail. It is not an interactive area. That green space needs to remain.”
“I echo what the others have said,” Emily Busby said. “Sunset is a beautiful area. I suggest more conversation by the city before you make a decision.”