Royal Oak Ballot Proposal to Relocate War Memorial Fails

The relocation of the memorial sparked controversy earlier this year. Tom Roth spearheaded a legal fight against the city’s repositioning, which prompted Roth to run for mayor. Roth lost to incumbent candidate Michael Fournier.

Royal Oak residents have rejected a ballot measure that would have returned a war memorial 70 feet back to its original spot.   

The city moved the monument to local veterans away from its position by the city’s library earlier this year. With 70% of residents voting “no” on the proposed ordinance, the memorial will now stay at its new location in the city’s Centennial Park.  

The relocation of the memorial sparked controversy earlier this year. Tom Roth led a petition drive and legal fight against the city’s repositioning, which ultimately prompted Roth to run for mayor of Royal Oak. Roth lost the election to incumbent candidate Michael Fournier, with Fournier receiving about 64% of the vote. 

Judy Davids/City of Royal Oak
Judy Davids/City of Royal Oak

Roth and local veterans say the city didn’t make a good faith effort to discuss the plan. 

“We tried numerous times to actually get our voice heard and it just wasn’t gonna happen,” said Roth, who commands the American Legion post that includes Royal Oak. “[City officials] would not even respond to the letters, the emails, the phone calls. We didn’t get anything.”

He said ahead of the vote he has concerns about the city’s increasing urbanization. But the relocated war memorial “was the tipping point.”

City officials countered that they did hear the voice of the people and acted accordingly. They said in 2018, more than 1,500 residents gave feedback about plans for the Barbara Hallman Memorial Plaza.  

Fournier said going against the will of the people who contributed their ideas during the community engagement process created a situation that didn’t give the monument the “reverence and respect that it deserves.”

“We’ll let voters decide and see what the outcome is,” he said.

And on Tuesday, Royal Oak voters had the final say.

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  • Dorothy Hernandez
    Dorothy Hernandez is Digital Editor for 101.9 WDET, creating digital editorial content. Her love of radio began when she had a radio show in college when she and her roommate played '80s music in the middle of the night.