The impetus for the resolution was a request from an informal committee over the summer to install a privately funded menorah in Van Neste Square during the eight days of Hanukkah this year.
Van Neste Square is identified
in the resolution as a space that could accommodate other
displays. In previous discussions, officials also indicated that the park would allow for
religious displays in a public space without the infringement of separation of
church and state that placement on government property might suggest.
The council endorsed the proposal last month, citing the value of supporting diversity in the village. But a specific policy, which in prior discussions Village Attorney Matt Rogers said would necessarily encompass all religions, had yet to be hammered out.
The resolution adopted by the council allows religious displays not to exceed 12 feet in height, width or depth on the northwest corner of Van Neste Square – near the intersection of Ridgewood Avenue with Oak Street.
While a public menorah will move forward at the location, other displays would be permitted under the resolution only from Nov. 25 to next Jan. 3, pending a more permanent ordinance by the council to establish a regular policy.
“There’s a time sensitivity to this because Hanukkah falls early this year,” Mayor Paul Aronsohn said.
Rogers indicated that, in accommodating the menorah, there would not be enough time to move forward with a formal ordinance, which could be discussed in the coming months.
Officials welcomed the menorah as a test case for an eventual ordinance, as the village identifies any outstanding issues with the policy.
“There are some unanswered issues…but this will be a learning experience,” said Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli.
“I see the day where there will be multiple displays,” he added.
As per the resolution, other religious displays are permitted under the guidelines developed for the menorah, subject to regulations to be determined by the village manager.
“This is new territory.” Aronsohn said. “So we’re going to feel our way forward.”