Unsettling land controversy as festival approaches

Site of war memorial part of land dispute

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)- As a cultural festival draws near in Dayton, plans are unsettling to some war veterans. The Korean War Memorial sits on land located just off Riverside Drive in downtown Dayton.  Temple Israel leases the land from the City of Dayton.  The city says there’s no rent charged, but the temple does maintain the grounds to a great extent.

This will be the fourth year Temple Israel will be for a cultural festival.  The event is planned for Sunday, June 8. The Korean Veterans Memorial Association says part of that festival dishonors those who lost their lives protecting our freedom. The association’s president is Jim Snyder, Sgt. Maj USMC Retired.

“The walkway honors those going all the way back to WWI, WWII, Vietnam, all of them. It honors these people,and that’s what this memorial is for, to honor these people,” said Snyder.

The Dayton site at 130 Riverside Drive is the offiical site of the Ohio Korean War Memorial, but it recognizes men and women from other states and other conflicts.

“We’ve had people who purchased bricks for our walkway from California,from Texas, from anywhere,” explained Snyder.

In 1990 the City of Dayton gave the Korean Veterans Memorial Board the land at the southern end of the ten acre site that Temple Israel leases from the city.  Snyder told 2 NEWS Investigates there’s always been an understanding that on high holy days the memorial grounds could be used for overflow parking, but that’s it.

“Then I found out they’re drinking beer here and up through the walkway and coming down the walkway here they had a golf cart with beer down the walkway.  That’s not right. All this area is hallowed ground,” Snyder told 2 NEWS Investigates.

For the fourth year Temple Israel has scheduled a Jewish Cultural Festival.  2 NEWS Investigates contacted the temple to find out about the plans. We got the following statement from Courtney Cummings:

Temple Israel was surprised to hear from Channel 2 today.  We have been working very hard with a mediator, United States District Court Judge Walter Rice, to resolve the concerns of the Korean War Veterans.  Prior to today, we had been told that we had an acceptable resolution to all outstanding issues.  We have been and continue to be very confident in our legal position and our property rights but out of respect for the men and women who have served this country have been willing to go through these negotiations in good faith.  Temple Israel’s Jewish Cultural Festival is an opportunity for all of greater Dayton to come and learn about Judaism in a way that is comfortable for them – whether it is through food, music, entertainment, kids activities, or education.   It provides a way for all of us to celebrate and engage in the richness of the culture in a fun and meaningful environment.  It is certainly not the intent of Temple Israel to upset any other group.   We would direct any further comment about the Korean War Veterans’ concerns to Judge Rice.

The parties have been in mediation with Judge Walter Rice. His staff told me there is now an agreement that will be signed, but Snyder says he’s not ready to sign anything.  The controversy breaks his heart.

Former Dayton Mayor, Congressman Mike Turner (R-10th district) is not aware of any resolution either, but he thinks it’s coming.

“I think we have to honor our veterans. This is the state’s Korean War Memorial. There definitely needs to be rules of protocol, and so we’re working from the outside to pull together that intervention that will hopefully get an agreement between the parties,” said Congressman Turner.

2 NEWS Investigates checked with the City of Dayton and found out that in years past Temple Israel has applied and has received a tent permit for the event, but so far this year that request has not been made.




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