Jackson zoners approve placement of additional statues in Pushkin Memorial Park

JACKSON – The members of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment have approved an application that is expected to result in the installation of about 30 memorial statues at Pushkin Memorial Park.

The park is on Cassville and Perrineville road in the historic Cassville section of Jackson.

During an appearance before the zoning board on Aug. 4, representatives of the applicant, AS Pushkin Memorial Park, were seeking a use variance that would permit the installation of memorial statues.

The applicant was represented by attorney Alexander Pavlov, engineer Jason Marciano,
and Alexander Levitsky, the church warden.

Pavlov provided a history of the site, stating that “in 1920, a corporation called the ROOVA Mutual Benefit Association was formed by Igor Sikorsky, the inventor of the helicopter, and David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC.

“The corporation was a success, leading to a spinoff of two subsequent corporations; the Rova Farms Resort and the AS Pushkin Memorial home for aged Russian people,” Pavlov said.

AS Pushkin refers to Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837), a Russian poet, playwright and novelist of the Romantic era. The Cassville section of Jackson was settled by Russian immigrants to the United States.

Pavlov said both corporations were formed in 1939.

“The memorial home also owned the AS Pushkin Memorial Park and has been maintaining the park since 1939. The purpose of the park was twofold; one, it was a place for open space and for residents and the community to gather, and two, it was a memorial park,” Pavlov said.

The attorney explained that the memorial park contains a monument honoring Slavic individuals who were killed in the service of the United States in World War II and the Korean War.

“There is also a monument to a village in Russia which was destroyed by the Nazis,” Pavlov said.

He said the AS Pushkin Memorial Home has “more or less outlived its usefulness and will probably be out of business by the end of next year.”

“The (directors of) the memorial home were deciding what to do with the memorial park since the home is the custodian and owner of the park, when we were approached by (representatives of) Saint Vladimir’s Russian Orthodox Church who asked if we would be interested in donating the park. The board was overwhelmed with the offer and we have agreed to donate it to the church,” Pavlov said.

Representatives of Saint Vladimir church, which is on Perrineville Road in Cassville, asked if they could build additional statues at Pushkin Memorial Park.

“There was a sister organization called Rodina in Howell. In 2012, Rodina was sold to a recent Russian immigrant who was trying to revive (the organization), but did not succeed. He sold the property to (another entity), which insisted that the monuments he had placed around the building in Howell had to go,” Pavlov said.

Pavlov said the statues that are proposed to be installed at Pushkin Memorial Park all represent significant cultural figures in Russian history.

“We are here for the purpose of getting a use variance to expand our pre-existing non-conforming use, a park that has been in existence since 1939, to place about 30 additional statues” at that location, the attorney said.

Marciano, the applicant’s engineer, said the site is a triangular piece of property where Perrineville Road merges with Cassville Road (Route 571), just east of St. Vladimir church.

“The property is about 2.8 acres and currently has a very old rundown shed and three monuments. Currently, that is really the only use for it right now. The property is in the R-1 zone, which is a low density residential zone.

“What we are proposing is not single-family homes, thus we are here for a use variance. What we are proposing is to add statues to a memorial park that is already essentially that, a memorial park,” Marciano said, adding that the only proposed improvements are the additional statues.

“Some of the (additional statues) are on a base, some of them are busts of historical people, others are life-sized statues, but there are no other real improvements.

“There is no tree removal, the idea is to preserve nature, place the statues among the mature trees on the site. There is not a lot of underbrush there, but there are a lot of trees. The idea is to preserve what is there, add to it, and add more history to the site,” Marciano said.

The tallest statue would be about 12 feet tall. No key maps or lit walkways are currently proposed. St. Vladimir church will maintain the park.

Levitsky, the church warden, said there will be a path and a stabilized walkway in the memorial park. He said there has been discussion of creating a website which would describe the history of the statues at the memorial park.

After listening to the testimony that was presented by the applicant’s representatives, a motion was made to grant the use variance and to permit the additional statues to be placed in Pushkin Memorial Park. The zoning board members voted “yes” on the motion.