City of Albany Press Release - September 22, 2017
The City of Albany has issued a press release regarding the litigation filed against the City by the Albany Lions Club. Read Press Release here.
Please note: additional media coverage to date on this topic is included at the bottom of this page.
Statement read by Mayor Peggy McQuaid at the September 18, 2017 City Council Meeting:
The Albany City Council was dismayed to learn that in a departure from historical practice, the cross on Albany Hill was lit by the Albany Lions Club on Monday, September 11. Flags on city buildings and parks were flown at ½ staff on that day which is an appropriate, non-denominational civic remembrance of that terrible and tragic day. I am sure many Albany residents paused during the day for personal reflection.
I want to reiterate that the neither City Council nor the City of Albany endorses in any way the lighting of the cross for any occasion, religious or nationalistic, or supports its continued presence on public property
We have been notified that the Lions Club filed suit in federal court on September 11 against the City of Albany and several employees and council members individually. This civil action seeks damages and injunctive relief for deprivation of due process, equal protection, interference with the right of free speech, and interference with the free exercise of religion. The City will respond to the Lions Club's claims through the judicial process.
We appreciate the input and support received to date from the public and encourage you to continue respectfully sharing your concerns with the Lions Club as well as the City Council.
City Council Statement regarding status of Albany Hill Cross - December 14, 2016
Dear Albany Residents,
The Albany City Council would like to update residents regarding the cross on Albany Hill. The Albany Lions Club claims ownership of an easement on Albany Hill to maintain the cross in the city park. It claims the right to illuminate the cross around the Christmas and New Years Holidays and during the Easter holidays.
Due to safety concerns regarding the wires to the cross running through Eucalyptus trees, the City requested PG&E disconnect power to the cross in September 2016. PG&E and the Lions Club have recently informed the City that the wires will be repaired, as necessary to meet PG&E standards, and the cross reenergized in the near future. The City is not necessarily in agreement that the PG&E safety standards are sufficiently stringent but it believes it must defer to the responsible parties in this matter.
Apart from safety concerns, the City Council feels the presence of the cross in the public park is inappropriate. The City has heard from many members of the community expressing concerns and has received many requests that the cross be moved from public property. However, the costs and risks of the threatened litigation by the Lions Club over the purported easement could make the relocation of the cross to private land infeasible.
As an alternative, the Council has proposed to the Lions Club that the area where the cross is located be made a nonsectarian gathering place, where a cross could be temporarily raised by Christian groups, but that could be also used by other groups at other times. Rather than responding to the merits of the City's proposal, however, the Lions Club chose to submit a claim threatening litigation against several City officials. Please see links below for more information.
In a recent statement, Council Members reaffirmed that they welcome and value all of Albany’s diverse citizens regardless of where they are from, who they love, whether or how they worship, how they look, and the extent of their abilities. The Council has invited all of the citizens of Albany to join with it in creating a safe and welcoming community; one in which we celebrate our differences and learn from each other; one in which we are proud to raise our children. The presence of the cross in the public park is at odds with the inclusive values the City encourages, and the City will continue to explore all options for its removal.
- Public Plea from the City of Albany to the Lions Club International - January 21, 2016
- City of Albany Settlement Offer to the Albany Lions Club - April 4, 2016
- Albany Lions Club Claim against the City of Albany - November 17, 2016
- Freedom from Religion letter - April 6, 2017
- Correspondence Received Regarding Albany Hill Cross