War memorial is overshadowed by electrical boxes | News

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War memorial is overshadowed by electrical boxes

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A First Coast monument that is dedicated to war dead is easy to overlook because of its location near electrical boxes.

It will be moved, but the question is … to where?

Hubert Naumann served in World War II in the Navy. He now lives in St. Augustine and he didn't know until recently the city even had a monument which honors St. Augustine residents who died in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

"I usually walk through there every once in a while and look at stuff," Naumann said, "and I never saw the monument!"

And when he did see it, he was disgusted.

"It looks to be in bad shape. It's a disgrace to our boys that served and put their lives on the line," Naumann said.

The monument has been in the St. Augustine Plaza de la Constitution across from the Bridge of Lions since 1946. However, electrical boxes from Florida Power and Light are right next to it, so the monument is often overlooked.

Naumann and others started complaining to city officials about the care and location of the monument.

And last month, "city commissioners unanimously agreed that the city will move the monument," Kay Burtin, President of The Pilot Club, said.

The Pilot Club has been instrumental in the monument project.

According to the last city commission vote, the monument would stay in the same plaza, but it would be moved 35 feet further west.

But now the Military Officers Association is suggesting the monument be moved even further away into the next plaza over, the west plaza which is across from the Casa Monica Hotel and west of the Government House.

Harry Metz with the Military Officers Association said, "It's a military place already. It's got two cannons and two stacks of cannon balls."

There are a couple of issues with that second location.

First, the city archaeologist told First Coast News that the west plaza was an unmarked cemetery from the Second Seminole War or possibly the Civil War.

However, Metz said that doesn't need to stop the monument from being placed there. "They're not going to be digging where the graves are."

Secondly, the state owns the land of the west plaza, but Metz said the association is speaking with representative from the state about the idea.

Both Burtin and Metz say the monument could break when it's moved, so there is discussion about building a new one.

A contractor told First Coast News that he thinks it would cost less to create a new granite monument than to move the original monument.

If a new one is built, the consensus is to save the plaques and crown from the original monument.

The estimated cost to move the monument is $10,000. FPL has put up $5,000 and a private citizen has donated the other $5,000.

As for Naumann, he doesn't know if he prefers the first or second location, but he knows he wants the monument moved to a place "where it can be seen and fixed up nice."


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