Regan reveals larger plans as memorial approved

As St. Augustine’s City Commission members discussed differences of opinion on cost, location, scope and the ability to raise private donations to pay for an Andrew Young Memorial, Historic City News reporters watched as the City Manager provided another consideration.

City Manager John Regan, who, along with Commissioner Errol Jones and memorial designer Jeremy Marquis, traveled to Atlanta to meet the 1960’s civil rights leader and former ambassador, is now speaking of the national, not local, importance of the planned “Andrew Young Crossing” memorial along 20 feet of walkway into the Plaza de la Constitucion.

While in Atlanta, Young walked across a sheet of paper in inked shoes to create impressions for footsteps to be placed on the memorial. Great care and expense has been taken to represent exactly the size of the shoes and stride of the former ambassador’s actual walk, “so that visitors can choose to walk beside or in Young’s footsteps” — a metaphor that is further stretched by the fact that the placement of the memorial does not represent the location where the actual incident being commemorating occurred.

Over vocal objection from Commissioner Jones, Commissioner Sikes-Kline criticized the design as not accurately representing the historical event; she said, “When I found out that this is not even going in the correct place, I was floored.”

Over vocal objection from Commissioner Jones, Commissioner Leary repeated a concern from a previous meeting that there should be some mechanism in place for the public to participate in the cost of the Andrew Young memorial. Jones believes the City should pay for the entire cost of the elaborate memorial. Regan told Leary that it may be possible to work out something for people who want to donate.

Regan says the dedication of the memorial can be a “kick-off to fundraising”, however, he was not referring to raising money for the memorial itself. Last night, Regan publically shed light on plans for a Civil Rights Museum to be built in St. Augustine and indicated that Andrew Young and his foundation could help further those plans along.

Regan referred to the dedication of the Andrew Young Memorial as being, “a national event” and “a major promotion of St. Augustine for the 2014 (Civil Rights) commemoration.”

One of the charges of First America Foundation, in addition to planning and coordinating the 450th Commemoration of St. Augustine’s founding in 2015, is to plan a 50-year anniversary in 2014 in commemoration of the 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act.

After exhaustive comment that eventually led to the mayor intervening in the discussion and calling the question to a vote, City Commissioners approved a design for the memorial project.

Commissioners two weeks ago approved up to $10,000 for the memorial, which Jones noted “is not memorializing Young, but rather the event.” Previously approved was designation of the King and St. George streets intersection as “Andrew Young Crossing,” where Young was beaten while marching with civil rights demonstrators in June 1964.

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