ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) —A Rockford roundabout is for more than just traffic control; it is a memorial to honor veterans.
However, it has seen its fair share of accidents, with the most recent tearing up several beds of flowers. The community, however, is doing what it can, as many went out on Thursday to volunteer and clean up what was left over.
This was the 18th time that the mess was cleaned up by volunteers. The question they are asking now is how to fix the issue.
“We cannot continue to let a veterans memorial be treated this way,” said Ernie Redfern, co-chair of the ‘Friends of Veterans Memorial Circle.’
The 18th accident at Veterans Memorial Circle, located at N. Main and Auburn Streets, took place just north of the roundabout on the north side’s median. The memorial and nearby plants were damaged.
“This bed was almost exclusively perennials, and they had been planted from the very first in, and over the years they’ve established,” Redfern said. “And now all of a sudden, it’s pretty well wrecked and we’re not going to be able to recover a lot of that.”
Volunteers said this was the most costly accident to the garden that they have seen yet. Some from the community went out to do their part, and while many are happy to help make Rockford look beautiful, they are fed up with having to fix yet another disaster left by a vehicle.
“When you see people get in accidents here and cause major damage to things that is completely volunteer based, that is paid for by volunteer dollars and it just gets ruined in a blink of an eye, that’s frustrating,” said volunteer Bryan Biehl.
Still, the importance of keeping up with the garden will continue to make those who care go out and clean up over and over again. Didier Greenhouse donated may replacement plants on short notice.
Whether it is to continue to make Rockford beautiful or to honor veterans, volunteers just hope that drivers can pay better attention near the roundabout.
“And that’s really what we do, is this connection between a veteran and our community to show our thanks,” Redfern said.
“One of those neighborhood improvement projects, I think in terms of the things that are done, this one specifically done with veterans in mind,” Biehl added. “I think that’s important.”
Volunteers said that they are working with the city on how they can create a safer space for this area, saying that over 15 accidents in just five years is way too many.