WILLIAMS - A proposed downtown mural became a point of heated debate recently when the matter was brought before city council members during their regularly scheduled meeting May 14. Council members were asked for a decision on whether or not they would grant permission for the mural by members of the Grand Canyon American Legion Post 42. While members of the city council did not grant a decision on the project, Williams Mayor John Moore said he would meet with American Legion members, as well as with members of the Main Street Committee and work with both parties to develop the mural using the appropriate city codes.
Moore told Legion members that there would be a mural during the May 14 meeting.
The proposed mural became a point of contention after members of the Main Street Design Review Team (DRT) questioned various aspects of the project, citing city guidelines, after Legion member Al Dunaway presented it to them in late April. The mural, which depicts a number of images, including dog tags, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and the words "freedom is not free," will be located along Route 66 between First and Second streets.
Following the DRT meeting, a number of e-mails circulated between members of the American Legion group, city officials, veterans and members of various Williams organizations, many of which amounted to personal attacks on the character of the committee members, according to sources.
A number of representatives attended the May 14 meeting, including veterans and members of the Legion, as well as members of the Main Street Committee's DRT.
Moore requested that speakers refrain from using the word "unpatriotic" at the start of the discussion.
"I don't think there is anyone in this room that does not want an American Legion mural," Moore said.
While some at the meeting questioned whether or not the mural represented the history of Williams, per city guidelines, Council Member Don Dent disagreed.
"Service to country is an awful lot of what this town was built on and the people that are in it," Dent said.
Kim Kadletz, a member of the Main Street DRT and veteran of the Vietnam War, defended the position of the committee's comments during the May 14 meeting.
"We were not rude, we did not tell him no," Kadletz said, adding that he was disheartened by the personal attacks on the character of DRT members.
"It's your constitutional right to say what you want, but it should be the truth, not hearsay," Kadletz said.
He acknowledged that questions were raised, however, such as how a picture of the Alamo fits in to the proposed Route 66 mural.
"We suggested that, perhaps, a picture of the Color Guard would be more appropriate than the Alamo. We suggested that a picture of a troop transport would be more appropriate than the Alamo. We did not reject anything," Kadletz said.
Williams resident and veteran Buck Williams attended the May 14 meeting to support the mural and the efforts of the American Legion Post 42 and said he was dissatisfied at the way Legion members were treated during the late April DRT meeting.
"There is nothing in that mural that does not represent Arizona," Williams said. "The way that it was put to us was unacceptable."