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April 5, 2010 - 11:24pm

Peace garden efforts moving forward; Terry Anderson expected to lend support

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Terry Anderson, hlom, Peace Garden.

holm_peacegarden.jpg

With a nod of approval (no official vote could be taken) from the Legislature's Human Services Committee today, Marilyn Drilling and Barb Toal are ready to push forward with plans for a peace garden next to the Holland Land Office Museum.

They need to raise $55,000 in the next 11 months, and Drilling said a key component of the fundraising campaign will include a dinner with Terry Anderson as the keynote speaker.

terry_anderson.jpgAnderson, who was held captive in Lebanon for more than 6 years, from 1985 to 1991, hasn't visited his hometown of Batavia in 19 years.

He didn't want to make it 20, said Drilling, executive director of HLOM, and he agreed to support the peace garden effort at no cost to the organizers.

"Who better to talk about peace than a man who spent so much of his wonderful life behind locked doors," Drilling said.

The dinner is planned for Sept. 9.

The county owns the land next to the museum and must approve any new use of the strip of real estate hard against the Tonawanda Creek. To grant approval, the Legislature must receive a finished plan, which includes at least the potential of approvals from the City of Batavia and the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as contract language from County Attorney Charles Zambito and final engineering plans.

Without that, the Human Services Committee couldn't even poll members for consensus, but it was clear there were no objections from members for pushing forward with the project.

"Of all the people I've heard talk about it, I don't think I've heard anybody say they're not in favor of it," said Hollis Upson. "It's very interesting the amount of outpouring and number of volunteers who support it. It's been vary contagious."

Drilling is concerned that without a sense that the county supports the project, it will impede fundraising, which needs to proceed now.

There are 20 countries with official Peace Gardens, which is an international effort to promote and recognize peace among nations. The Peace Garden Foundation promotes the effort and was founded by current president Paula Savage, a resident and native of Batavia. The Batavia garden would be an honorary, not official, member. It would feature the 20 flags of the countries with official gardens.

Each country would be represented by its flag, and flag poles would be sold for donations of about $2,500 each, according to Drilling.

Drilling sees the peace garden as a natural extension of HLOM, helping to bring in tourists.

Toal, who chairs the local Peace Garden Committee, said it's a natural fit for Batavia and the strong interest in the region from War of 1812 enthusiasts.

Batavia, she said, served as a key defense in stopping the British advance after Buffalo was destroyed. Many tourists interested in the War of 1812 make the trip to Batavia, she said, and the peace garden at HLOM would be an appropriate destination point.

No county funds would be used in building and maintaining the peace garden, which is why, Drilling said, it's important to get started on fundraising now.

C. M. Barons
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Nothing against the concept of a peace garden- the location seems to beg criticism. It's a narrow strip of land with no parking. Aside from the location of another peace garden at The Hague; what does THIS peace garden have to do with the Holland Land Office? Once the twenty flagpoles are set up, the bank of the Tonawanda will look as sporty as a used car lot!
Howard B. Owens
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Not to speak for the organizers, but my understanding is ... the tie is the War of 1812 and or proximity to Canada. And there is parking, on the other side of the HLOM building.
C. M. Barons
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The parking you refer to is the Holland Land Office Museum lot- a miniscule parking lot half-dedicated to an information booth. You're suggesting it should also serve a peace garden? Forgive my cloudiness- I fail to see the connection between Batavia's strategic position in the War of 1812 and a peace garden. If the armistice had been signed in Batavia- that would be a different story.
Howard B. Owens
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There are communities all over the country setting up peace gardens. Regardless of the pretext (which Barb Toal can explain better than I can), why shouldn't Batavia have one, too? We need a all the peace we can get in this world.
Howard B. Owens
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Also, I think it will be rare when the parking isn't adequate.
C. M. Barons
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I disagree with the site/design. I'm up-in-the-air about the project. I've yet to be convinced that war and peace have anything in common aside from the absence of one describing the other. The Holland Land Office is a museum, office of the County Historian and research center with Library of local history. There is minimal room to accommodate current functions, and the parking has always been inadequate. Appending a peace garden diminishes the presence of the Land Office. Adding another shareholder to the only off-street parking (the Information Booth already subtracts parking space) is unacceptable. Isn't there an existing park at this site- named for the Holland Land Agent who chose to name Batavia? Paolo Busti? Therein a substantial connection to the museum. Twenty flag poles lining a narrow strip of land along Main Street will not resemble a park. What happens when the County needs to expand the HLOM addition that houses the research facility and historian's office? This is a handful of connected individuals assuming their pet project is a shared vision and presumptuous enough to believe destiny (the County) has provided free real estate to fulfill their dream.
Bryant Tyson
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The 20 flag poles do seem a bit much. If more countries join in does that mean more poles will be added. I would think there maybe a better way to represent the countries involved. How about steping stones, or a monument of some sort. This would also save the cost of replacing 20 flags a few times a year when they get weather beaten.
Dawn Ireland-Monsees
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Just an FYI. The History Department (records and research) are located in the old Engine House (3 West Main St.) There is also plenty of parking at that end of the proposed garden.

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