WILKES-BARRE — The veterans memorial monument on the site a closed city firehouse that was sold and converted into a private residence might be off limits for an upcoming parade in Parsons.
The homeowner, Richard Lombardo, has allowed people to plant flowers at the monument outside the former No. 9 firehouse on Scott Street and hold services there following the annual Memorial Day parade since he bought the property in November 2010.
But he’s reluctant to continue permitting access to the public.
“I’ve been getting numerous, numerous calls and concerns and directed not to let people on the property because of the liability,” he said last week.
Lombardo suggested that for the upcoming parade on May 26 the city close down the street so the memorial service can be held in front of the monument.
He has no intent to take down the granite monument and flagpole behind it, saying he will do “everything in my position that I can to assure it’s kept on display.” It’s pictured on the online real estate listing for the property.
He also said that he could look into including in the sales agreement that the public have access to the memorial.
He gave permission for a flower planting event over the weekend.
But out of concern that they might not be able to tend to the flowers if the property is sold, members of the Parsons Lions Club kept them in pots placed at the memorial.
Parsons resident and Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition president Charlotte Raup said the monument was donated to the city sometime after the firehouse and adjoining police precinct opened in 1931. It closed in 2006 and when the city sold it; the monument was included over objections by the public.
Raup didn’t fault Lombardo. “It’s his prerogative to do that and it’s also any other owner’s prerogative to do that and that is our fear,” she said.
She suggested that either the city buy the area containing the monument and flagpole, or the property owner donate it to the city or move it onto city property. Parsons Park is adjacent to the former firehouse.
City spokeswoman Liza Prokop said moving it to city property is under discussion.