Petition Asks Mayor to Help Preserve Memorial

By Kirsten Allen 

Photo by Glin Kindred

bench_memorialLast week, Corvallis citizens organized a petition drive asking Mayor Biff Traber to preserve a memorial bench constructed by homeless residents.

Members of the un-housed community constructed the memorial bench to honor the memory of Michael Whipple, a homeless Corvallis resident who froze to death on the bank of the Willamette River earlier this month. Since the construction of the unsanctioned memorial, there has been talk of having it removed.

“We would like this symbol of mourning which was created in the community by the community to be treated with the same care and respect with which it was made,” stated petition author Lara Treadaway.

The petitioners are requesting that the bench be protected until the decision on a new location has been made. Some signees have commented on the social injustice of the matter. Karen Josephson wrote, “I deeply respect the un-housed community and I am guessing that if this memorial were being offered by a group of folks more financially fortunate, this controversy would not exist.”  Dana Allen, who also signed the petition, brought up an interesting point: “It is important for us as citizens of Corvallis to recognize and potentially preserve some of the history of all of our residents for future generations.”

Late last week the petition received 150 signatures and was presented to Mayor Traber, who has shown full support and presented the case at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The mayor also stated he believes the bench can be removed while kept intact. Talks are now underway for the relocation of the remembrance art.