On January 30th, 2013, Mayor Francis G. Slay welcomed a ten-member delegation from the Bosnian community in his office at St. Louis City Hall. The delegation visited the mayor with the intention of presenting project “Sebilj” and inquiring about final approval for the building of this traditional monument in the heart of St. Louis. The proposed location for the monument is at the intersection of Gravois Avenue and Morganford Road, in an area better known as “Little Bosnia”. This area, for more than twenty years now, houses the heart of the Bosnian community in this city.
The delegation that met with mayor Slay was represented by Sadik Kukic—president of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, Samir Niksic—president of the United Bosnian Association, along with Anela Barbanell, Adnan Omeragic, Lejla Dudakovic, Sukrija Dzidzovic, Anel Mujkanovic, Robert Porter, Dan Marsh and Carol Howard (The 14th Ward Alderwoma, where the “Sebilj” will be built).
After a brief welcome in the mayor’s office, the meeting resumed at the conference hall, where Sadik Kukic spoke about the significant growth of the Bosnian community in St. Louis, emphasizing a wish to mark the community’s existence with a monument that will remind future generations of the existence and successful integration of Bosnians in this city.
Samir Niksic highlighted the importance of the existing businesses in the area that are owned and operated by Bosnians. He emphasized the close collaboration between the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce and the United Bosnian Association during the planning of the monument. The “Sebilj” monument is meant to be not only cultural, but also functions as an aesthetic gift to the city of St. Louis and all of it’s citizens. During his presentation, Niksic notified mayor Slay of the expected cost of the building project, which stands at $90,000. It is hoped that part of the funds will come from the city and part from upcoming donations within the Bosnian community.
Adnan Omergaic, the architect who designed the project, emphasized that the future monument will be surrounded with a beautiful park and that water from the “Sebilj” will continuously flow as it does at the original “Sebilj” site, located in Bosnia, at Sarajevo’s Bascarsija.
Expressing his admiration for the shown project of the Bosnian “Sebilj” and satisfaction that such a beautiful monument will decorate the city of St. Louis, mayor Slay offered his outmost support to the building efforts and instructed a few members of his staff (Stephen Gregali and Angelo Sita) to coordinate further with the representatives of the Bosnian community.
Alderwoman Carol Howard explained the current legal state of the proposed location and advised including in the project city counselors who will establish the basic legal clauses needed for the project to move forward.
Anela Barbanell, working as secretary of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, noted that the bank account for the building donations is already opened.
“We have our Bosnian construction companies, whose efforts will significantly reduce the cost of the construction”, said Barbanell and added that collecting of necessary funds should not represent a problem for the Bosnian community, which is known for its charity.
In an attempt to answer alderwomen Howard’s question, as to when the collection of funds will begin, Barbanell said that until this point the collection of the funds did not represent a logical move, since the community did not have official support from the city government and mayor Slay. “Now that we have the support and approval from the city of St. Louis, we can start soliciting funds,” added Barbanell. Mayor Slay was vocal during the presentation expressing his full support for the project, adding at the end:
“ Our wish is for as many as possible Bosnians to remain and live in the city of St. Louis. This project will certainly contribute to our wish. In addition we strive on the daily basis to increase safety of our city as well as the quality of education.”