Another Voice: A ‘backdoor’ solution to the veterans’ cemetery debate | Opinion
Recently I visited the Veterans Cemetery in Corfu for the burial of a friend who was a Navy Veteran. In my opinion, any reasonable person would agree that the intersection of the national road and the local road which accesses the cemetery is dangerous and that superior traffic control is necessary.
With respect to the traffic roundabout that has been proposed, I can also understand the concerns expressed by truckers and plow drivers that such roundabouts – so rare in America – could be problematic. Residents only have to cross the roundabout at Wehrle Drive and Harlem Road to realize that such traffic control devices can be confusing, even if engineers insist they do their job.
The installation of such a roundabout in Corfu could do more harm than good. I suggest that Western New Yorkers consider a different approach. Among urban designers, what I propose is sometimes called “the old Harvard solution”: If you can’t solve it, present it.
I suggest that we consider installing a monumental sculpture in a new roundabout, right in the middle of the roundabout. This would be both a major marker of the location of the cemetery and a major visual barrier to slow-moving traffic approaching the intersection. Such a sculpture would appropriately commemorate the veterans who are buried nearby and recognize their service to the nation. If anyone needs an image of what I am proposing, picture in your mind the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo.
People also read…
If this idea could be considered, I offer a caveat: it will not work if designed and built on a modest scale. Architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham once said, “Don’t make small plans. They have no power to stir the blood of men. The type of sculpture I envision would be large enough to be clearly visible from a considerable distance, and should be “figurative” – i.e. easily recognizable for what it commemorates, not abstract or “modern”, but more classic in its execution. This should be a credit to the veterans who are buried nearby. It would not be surprising if the proposed sculpture incorporated flags; and, if so, it should be lit at night. This would respect military flag waving protocol and would undoubtedly increase public safety at the intersection after dark.
Nor do I think it’s a stretch of the imagination to say that, if we do it wisely, truckers, plows and others approaching the roundabout would happily slow down out of respect for those whose military service would be commemorated by such a sculpture.
Alfred D. Price is professor emeritus of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo.