The Alexandria City Council’s first meeting after the election was a short one, but it did decide on a permanent memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We [task force for the memorial] have been working for some time and are recommending a permanent memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King be built in Market Square,” said Councilman William D. Euille, who, along with Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland, served on that task force. “This will be accomplished in conjunction with the renovations that are currently scheduled at Market Square.”
The task force is recommending the design of a sculpture bench that will be a statue of Dr. King, much like the one of Benjamin Franklin that sits in front of the Printing Industries of America building on Diagonal Road. That particular sculpture is one of a limited number of like sculptures that are scattered at sites throughout the country. The sculpture that is being proposed for a memorial to Dr. King would be an original and would cost in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $200,000. The money would come from a public/ private partnership between the city and individuals who are interested in this project.
“I am very pleased to have worked on this task force and will continue to be a part of the commission that will raise money for the sculpture,” said Vice Mayor Cleveland. “I look forward to the time when young people can come to Market Square and have their pictures taken on this bench.”
Councilwoman Joyce Woodson asked about the time frame for having a finished product. “I was just wondering if there isn’t some way that we can get the sculpture and put it some place else and then move it, and not have to wait for the renovation of Market Square,” she said. “I don’t know if this is feasible or not, but I was just wondering.”
CITY MANAGER Philip G. Sunderland said that the time that it will take to complete the design and competition will be about the same amount of time that it is going to take to complete the planned renovations at Market Square. Those plans may also include a visitors center, but that has not been determined at this point.
“The plan here is to put this bench in the garden and make sure that it is visible and well-lighted,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. “That should not interfere with any other plans for Market Square.”
Both the sculpture and the planned renovations are likely to be complete in the next 2 to 2 1/2 years. The city clerk will send copies of the task report to various civic organizations, and Council will hold a public hearing on the matter on June 14. Council will vote on the memorial on June 24.