Sarasota hears from residents about memorial wall removal

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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013 5:35 pm | Updated: 9:19 pm, Tue Jan 29, 2013.

SARASOTA - The controversy continues over the removal of historic memorial plaques at Sarasota's Fred Atkins Park.  The move angered Newtown residents and prompted a meeting between community leaders and city officials.  But for many, the city's response, just isn't enough.

"We left there feeling insulted", said Newtown community activist Barbara Langston.

Langston is referring to her feelings after a meeting with city officials about the removed of memorial plaques that lined the walls at Fred Atkins Park in Newtown.  The plaques were a part of a history wall meant to highlight historical figures who made a difference in the community.

"They had no right to touch this wall at all without coming to the community," said Langston.

According to Langston, the plaques and construction of the wall were paid for through community fund raising, sponsorships and a federal grant.  And, had nothing to do with the city.  That's why she says she's searching for answers as to why the city removed them.  But, Langston says her concerns were quickly shutdown  

"Our city manager, in essence was telling us we really don't care what you all are saying.  He said they didn't mean to do it we gonna put the wall back.  Now where do we go from here."

But Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin has a different story.  "Our crews are continuously trying hustle and make repairs as timely as they can so it's a bit usual that we would report repairs back and seek the blessing of the neighborhood association."

But Barwin does admit there are some exceptions . "This particular historic wall has a special sensitivity with so many folk involved in its creation and I think that it should have been treated a little more special than a standard neighborhood repair."

Members of the Newtown community are calling for an audit into the memorial's removal, as well as disciplinary actions for those involved.  

But in the meantime, the city says they are in the process of repairing the wall and replacing the plaques.

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