City to oversee veterans memorial
Foundation transfers responsibility to New London Parks and Rec
By Jim Paul
Responsibility of the Taft Park Veterans Memorial was transferred to the New London Parks And Recreation Department.
The transfer occurred at the Nov. 1 Parks and Recreation Committee meeting,
According to Jim Jaeger, chairman of the New London Veterans Memorial Foundation, the effort to build the memorial began in December 2014 at the New London Common Council meeting.
Don Quaintance , a World War II veteran, convinced the mayor to let him speak in front of the council about the need for a proper memorial.
“Don got up and talked to the mayor. If you knew Don, he said what he wanted to say,” Jaeger said. “At the end of the meeting, there were probably maybe eight or 10 people there that were veterans from different organizations (to support Don). At the end of the meeting the council agreed that they would talk and possibly look into where sites could be located in the city of New London to put a memorial.”
After discussing several locations, the decision was made to locate the memorial in Taft Park.
With a location secured, the New London Veterans Memorial Foundation was formed.
The foundation elected officers from each of the four veteran’s organizations in New London, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and the American Veterans.
The foundation began to hold biweekly meetings and they estimated the project would cost $300,000 and that would take five years to raise the funds needed, raising the money was accomplished in half the time.
1,100 names on wall
A dedication was held in 2018 but it became obvious that there would not be enough room on the 16 granite panels for many more names of veterans so eight more panels were installed. Currently there are about 1,100 names on the wall with room for 560 more names.
Now, as planned, the foundation is transferring responsibility for Taft Park back to the city of New London.
As part of the terms of the transfer, the director of the Parks And Recreation Department will meet with an ad hoc committee of local veteran’s organizations to discuss needs of the park and maintain open communication on the park’s future.
The foundation will transfer funds to the city to be used for major maintenance or future needs.
Also the city will redesign and distribute the application form for the correct mailing information to include contact information for those who have questions about the Memorial.
Finally, Parks and Rec will provide an avenue to allow citizens to still contribute and memorialize their veterans on the Memorial.
“The city and the Department of Parks and Recreation is extremely grateful to be blessed with such an honorable and grand monument to our area Veteran’s to be displayed in our downtown. The city is ever grateful to the foundation’s determination to make their dream a reality to the park,” Parks and Rec Director Ginger Sowle said.