Community rallies around 'CG City' sign

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:46 PM

Numerous individuals, from Coast Guardsmen to festival organizers, spoke to the significance of the sign.

Roger Bergman, a former mayor, said he heard from residents about the issue immediately after City Council made its decision two weeks ago to prevent the "Coast Guard City USA sign" going up this summer.

"Their request was to come to you and ask you to reconsider your decision," he said. "Needless to say, I'd like to personally ask you to reconsider your decision."

Bergman was on City Council and serving as mayor when the decision was made two years ago to allow the sign on the hill.

"I am here simply to ask that the letters be put back up," he said to council. "Please just do it. After all, we're Coast Guard City USA and we are proud of it."

Some council members reconsidered their decision to vote against the letters.

"I think, if we are listening to the citizens of Grand Haven, we owe it to them to try it again," Councilman Dennis Scott said.

However, council did not reverse its decision to prevent the sign — at least not yet. According to Mayor Geri McCaleb, there would have to be overwhelming City Council support to have the issue looked at again.

Scott noted that he had been stopped countless times in the past two weeks to be told about their love of the letters, how other things such as fireworks and firefighters who spray the hill during the shows damage the hill, and that the city should rethink its decision.

Scott said the signs should be allowed for this year's Coast Guard Festival, July 26 to Aug. 4, and then let the city's Environmental & Natural Resources Committee look at the hill before and after, and report their findings to council in the fall.

"Then the Coast Guard Festival has time to come up with an alternative," he said.

McCaleb, who was the lone vote two weeks ago to keep the sign, said she still supports it.

"I'm with Denny," she said Monday. "Everywhere I go, it is what people have on their minds. For some reason, this has really struck a chord with the people of Grand Haven."

McCaleb noted that the Coast Guard has offered its expertise in helping to prevent any erosion on the hillside from the sign.

Coast Guard Festival Executive Director Mike Smith said he hopes council members would do their job and listen to the people, who overwhelmingly want the sign to return for a third summer. Smith said he has received a lot of support from the community about the sign.

"We've heard from people that the sign really matters to them," he said.

Smith also noted that if erosion is such an issue, he would support a study that would look at that issue.

He also disagreed that the sign is some kind of advertisement.

"The only thing that sign says is who we are," Smith said. "That is all it was ever intended to be."

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