With a packed crowd of veteran supporters in attendance to emphasize their position, the Kenai City Council Wednesday voted 4-2 to show support for the war memorial as it is in Leif Hansen Memorial Park and work with the state against a potential lawsuit threatening the city.
After a brief executive session with Kenai City Attorney Scott Bloom, the council held a lengthy discussion in public regarding the ongoing issue of the veteran's memorial at Leif Hansen Memorial Park. Council member Tim Navarre said the city should take a stand and show support for the veteran's who have made their voices to keep the memorial in place.
Navarre moved that the council take a stance in support for the veteran's request and asked for support from the state to work with the city against the threat of a lawsuit. Council member Brian Gabriel seconded the motion.
Council members Ryan Marquis and Terry Bookey voted against Navarre's motion.
When the motion passed, some members of the public clapped. Seven people spoke during the unscheduled comment period in support of leaving the memorial as it is.
Marquis said he felt this was a city issue and didn't want to see the council lose authority to the state. While he said he appreciated Navarre's intent, he said it felt like "grandstanding" to the public and wouldn't change anything if the city gets sued.
Navarre said he did not make the motion for political reasons. He said it is important that the city takes a stand because the public has made it clear how they feel on the issue. He said he has talked with local state legislators who have also showed their support for the veterans.
The veteran's memorial artist Scott Hamann, who attended the council meeting, said his intent with the memorial was to honor fallen veteran's with the symbol of a kneeling soldier in front of a soldier's tomb, marked by a cross.
During an April city council meeting, the council voted to suspend a resolution from Navarre to show support for the memorial.