Plans for a national veteran’s cemetery in Chicago’s northwest suburbs sparks controversy as the mayor says she’s been listening to residents’ concerns—many of them saying the proposed location is inconvenient.
Fifteen acres of land at South Freeman Road in South Barrington is where the Department of Veteran Affairs wants to build a columbarium to house the cremated remains of those who served in the military.
Some veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Arlington Heights say they like the idea.
“It would be fine with me, it’s close to where my grandchildren are, just a few blocks of where I live now, my wife and I and I think that would be nice to have a chance to go see what I look like when I’m not here, in an urn” said veteran Brian Jones.
The cemetery would initially have about 5,000 containers for ashes, along with a memorial marker- gravesite locator and parking. It’s also expected to have rifle fire several times a week.
South Barrington’s mayor says that although the facility is wanted in the village, it’s just not wanted at that particular location.
“It’s across the street from a landfill that emits methane odors, it’s next to neighborhood with some veterans with PTSD, as well as people with auditory problems and also Hindu families that are prohibited from living next to any kind of a cemetery facility,” said Mayor Paula McCombie.
McCombie says the village is trying to work with the VA and find alternative sites.
“I have another location within South Barrington and I’ve been doing a lot of work myself in trying to locate properties here, most of them were not acceptable to the VA,” she said.
The mayor says the VA doesn’t need village approval to move ahead with the cemetery.
The federal government can do whatever it wants, as long as they purchase it, McCombie went on to say.
Tentative plans call for construction to start next year and for it to open a year later.
The South Barrington community is set to hold a town hall meeting at Village Hall on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the proposal.