The plans for a memorial to honor the 19th president of the United States will not likely include the southwest corner of William and Sandusky streets.
The Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial Committee met at the Willis Education Center, 74 W. William St., to review alternatives Wednesday night.
“We’re considering other locations,” said committee chairman Gene Buckingham. He added that nothing has been decided.
The corner is no longer being considered as its owner and the committee could not come to an agreement about the memorial’s final design.
In August, the committee approved the project’s final design drafted by Columbus-based architect firm OHM Advisors. It featured a slender Hayes sculpture standing on a podium with his left hand slightly in his coat pocket, while carrying a top hat in the other hand.
The committee had secured the $5,000 for the design. That included $2,000 from Delaware County; $720 from the Delaware County Historical Society’s downtown tours focused on the president; and $400 from committee members. The project would have cost about $400,000 with the committee in charge to raise funds.
But when The Gazette published the designs the same month it was the first time the owner of the corner saw the images.
Scott Blackwell of Westerville said he missed the design as an email attachment sent from a city official prior to the meeting.
“This has been a communication issue,” he said.
Blackwell purchased the corner in 2008 and renovated the space into a plaza for the community to use. But the plaza’s fountain was not working correctly and prompted him to shut it down about two years ago.
“I was trying to create a cool corner,” Blackwell said.
When the fountain was shut down, the city informally approached Blackwell to see if he was interested in having the memorial at the corner. Blackwell said he was happy to cooperate but also wanted to protect his investments, neighbors and tenants, from other nearby properties he owns.
“I was kind of on hold,” he said.
Following the release of the design, Blackwell relayed to the city changes he wanted of the final design. But committee members said they were not satisfied with the changes as relayed to them by the city.
Blackwell said he knows the fountain has been used as a “doggone trash can” in downtown. He plans to make improvements to the corner with or without the memorial project’s involvement.
The city now has an existing marker indicating the former Hayes birthplace in front of the BP gas station on William Street near downtown.
“I think it’s great this committee is trying to make (the memorial) happen,” Blackwell said.
Those interested in joining the committee can contact member Brent Carson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.
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