Store owners, city bicker over statue placement
A simple update item on the agenda turned into a major discussion during Thursday’s meeting of the Bay City Council.
Heidi Martinez, tourism manager for the city, presented an update on the Joe DeLoach statue. The statue is set to honor the Olympic accomplishments of the Bay City graduate on a national stage.
While it appears no one is questioning the validity of the statue, the ire of store owners around the downtown square was raised when they learned of the city’s plans to place the statue in front of a store, on city property, on the square.
Ann Ryan, a member of the Main Street Board, voiced her concerns over the city’s decision to place the statue in the downtown square area.
“I want to congratulate the DeLoach family on a beautiful statue. I think it is going to be really, really nice,” Ryan said. “I think the placement of it is not right. I think the stadium is the perfect place for it to be an inspiration to young people and athletes. An insult to the Main Street Board that we were never consulted about the placement of it. I think you told us the landowners were in favor of it and I don’t think that is quite right and I find that offensive. I love the idea of the statue, I just think it is a mistake with the location of the statue.”
Martinez, who is also serving as project manager for placement of Joe DeLoach statue, said it was the decision of the Art Committee to place this statue in front of The Children’s Store initially.
Bay City Mayor Mark Bricker said he spoke with owner of The Children’s Store and was under the impression that he was “okay with it.”
“We were under the impression that he was okay with us to move forward with the placement,” Martinez said. “We had been trying to find a location for the statue for six months.”
But now it has come to light that owners in the area are not pleased with the statue placement.
“When we have these business owners that come in and invest their life savings and their time, I just think we need to overcome all the obstacles before we start the process,” said council member Jason Childers. “Looks like we made a decision so we could move forward quickly on it.”
Martinez said the decision was made in the last eight hours and Bricker believed there would not be any objections to the placement of the statue.
Some council members thought the Bay ISD new stadium would be a great placement for the statue. Martinez said the school district was not approached about placing the statue at the new stadium site.
“I didn’t think anyone would have objections against it considering it would be on city property,” Martinez said. “I am just as baffled why everyone is against the statue being downtown.”
“I am not baffled that the store owners are upset about this,” said Eslinbaum. “I am baffled that about communication was lost.”
Bricker said he selected the corner for the statue placement and he said that decision was made some time ago.
“I am pretty adamant about wanting the statue downtown,” Bricker said. “It bothers me when I look, and this is a town that I grew up in as well, that you have a Confederate soldier statue but you can’t have an Olympian statue on that square, which is our social place for this community. I don’t think that will serve the purpose to place in at the new stadium.”