Our opinion: Council, undo a mistake

It was the first time in recent memory that a Memorial Day service was not conducted on the steps of the Warren County Courthouse.

The lawn that hosts a Civil War era cannon and surrounds the seat of county government was all but ignored.

Instead, out of protest for a policy put into place by Warren City Government which actually had no effect on the use of the courthouse lawn, veterans organizations moved their central county ceremony to Youngsville.

They were protesting the city’s decision to charge a fee to any group intending to use a city park, including veterans organizations that wished to use city parks with specific military and veterans themes: Soldiers and Sailors and Gen. Joseph Warren Park, each of which contain monuments honoring the service of veterans.

The decision to apply a broad brush to the policy, sans any option for exemption from the fee, was not the city’s finest example of leadership.

Of course, the city must maintain all of the parks it owns equally. Of course, the cost of that maintenance is becoming increasingly dear as the city faces the same financial burdens of other local governments hindered by a stagnant tax base.

And, we generally agree with the idea of fairness, the reason city administration gave for making any organization pay the going rate to reserve the use of a park for an activity.

However, there are parks, and then there are parks. A park that is essentially a monument to veterans is different than a collection of playground equipment, picnic tables and ball fields. Soldiers and Sailors and Joseph Warren parks are places for reflection and solemn ceremony, save for Friday night concerts at the former.

This is a case that calls for some flexibility in the rules. Veterans should have been given the right to use either facility for patriotic and military memorials without charge. Call it a donation by the city for service rendered. Call it an expression of thanks. We would call it good sense.

It’s a mistake that can be easily corrected by City Council, and we urge council to do it.