New London considers potential sites for veterans memorial
By John Faucher
The city Parks and Recreation Committee reviewed potential sites for a veteran’s memorial at their Sept. 2 meeting.
Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth used county GIS technology to gain a size comparison of the Clintonville memorial.
He informed the committee that a memorial of that size would fit on a parcel approximately 90 feet by 90 feet.
Veterans in attendance at the previous meeting had said they would prefer a site with good visibility near a highly traveled road.
Hoerth said he kept that in mind while looking at parcels the city currently owned.
Parks committee chair Alderman Rob Way said there are a number of locations possible, though he felt choosing a site at this time would be premature, since there is still not a formal committee in place for a veteran’s memorial.
Way read off the list of potential sites prepared by Hoerth.
Hoerth said Franklin Park would provide enough space for a memorial, though some issues such as tree removal and off street parking accommodations would need consideration. He said they could cut into the park off Division Street in order to create parking stalls.
Veterans at the August meeting did not think Taft Park was ideal or large enough for a memorial. Hoerth said there is a little over 10,500 sq. feet available there. The Clintonville memorial occupies 8,100 sq. feet; however, a different configuration would be required to fit it at Taft Park. He also said if a memorial similar to the one in Clintonville were built at Taft Park, it would utilize the entire site and probably not allow enough room for other events in the park, such as concerts.
River Trail Park
Hoerth said the River Trail Park has plenty of space for a memorial in the middle of the park. The concern with that location is accessibility and parking.
Hoerth said there is a space in the northwest corner of the property with ample enough room and parking could be developed from the cemetery roads.
Hatten and Memorial Parks
Hoerth said both of these city parks would be large enough for development, however they would not have the road visibility that the veterans requested.
Private property site
An additional site of interest is located on the southeast corner of Beacon and Mill Street where an old gas station used to be. Hoerth said while this site would have great visibility, off street parking options need to be considered along with the extra cost to purchase the property.
Parks committee member Bob Marcks suggested someone check into property on the south side of the city near the intersection of Highway 15 and 45, near Hillshire.
Who will take the lead?
Next, the committee had considerable discussion as to who should take the leadership role in moving forward with a veteran’s memorial.
At the August meeting, it was suggested that area veteran’s groups form a committee to work with the city on creating a memorial.
Jim Jaeger, a veteran in the audience said he felt the city should take the lead.
“Not all vets necessarily feel they want to belong to an organization,” Jaeger said. “I believe in my heart it should be a city initiative.”
Administrator Kent Hager said, “We’re here to help in every way we can, but we simply do not have a lot of staff to dedicate.”
Alderman Ron Steinhorst offered an example of how the city collaboratively works with organizations like the Youth Baseball Association, and Hatten Park Foundation to accomplish substantial projects in the city. “They raise funds, select projects and we support them along the way,” he said.
Rob Way explained, “We’ve seen the success, or the end result of these memorials in other communities, but not the process they went through to build them.”
Mayor Gary Henke suggested finding out what role the city had with the building of memorials in other communities. “Let’s find out the model of who has done it successfully,” he said.
Alderman Tom O’Connell suggested starting out with a sub-committee or a site selection committee.
Park committee member Lori Dean recommended Hoerth gather more information on the process other communities used to build their memorials, and then bring the information back at the next meeting for further discussion.
Kent Hager agreed to research the private property included on the list of potential sites.
The committee placed the memorial discussion on their October agenda.