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'Final concept' unveiled for veterans park


By Vicki Gerdes, DL-Online

The final concept for a new Veterans Memorial Park in Detroit Lakes was unveiled Thursday night at a meeting of the veterans' park planning committee.

The concept was presented by City Engineer Jon Pratt of Ulteig Engineering.

According to Pratt, the concept is "a hybrid" of three earlier concepts that were discussed by the committee.

It is, however, more of an overall plan than a final design, as Pratt pointed out.

"This is still at the concept level," he said. "Nothing is set in stone."

The concept will be presented to the city's park board at a special meeting to be held sometime this week (the date and time had not been finalized as of Friday morning).

Members of the veterans' planning committee will be present for the special meeting to answer questions about the project.

Early indications are that the concept will be well received by the city, Pratt told the committee on Thursday.

"Everybody seems to think this is a good concept," he said.

The concept includes not only the new granite monument that is in the process of being created by Ness Granite Works, but also locations for four existing monuments that were located in the former veterans' park adjacent to the county courthouse.

The old park was removed to make room for expansion of the courthouse, which spurred plans for the current project, according to committee member Don Schattschneider.

According to another committee member, Dave Coalwell, the four existing monuments include a memorial to fallen Becker County war veterans; a firemen's memorial; a Sept. 11, 2001 memorial; and a flagpole marker that will be set into the ground.

The four existing memorials, which have been in storage since the old veterans' park was dismantled, will be incorporated into the design of the new park, Pratt said.

"It's important that these (monuments) get back in the game," Schattschneider added.

The park design will also include a raised amphitheater, where ceremonies and small gatherings can be held. The amphitheater will have two entrances, as will the new monument.

Though there will be veterans' memorials interspersed throughout the property, the park is intended to be a city park, open to everyone.

"This isn't exclusively for veterans -- it's for everyone," said committee member Larry Hynding.

There will be a curved walkway leading through the park, lined with engraved granite pavers purchased as memorials by area residents. The pavers are one way that veterans will be raising funds for the new monument and future maintenance of the park.

"From the city's angle, this is what everybody needed -- something you can visualize," Pratt said.

Hynding made the motion, seconded by Coalwell, to approve the concept as presented by Pratt.

Coalwell mentioned one important concern of his, regarding the demolition of the old Mac's Hardware building to make room for the park (Mac's is now located near Hedahl's off Highway 10 on the west end of the city.)

"What kind of tamping will we do (on the demolition site)?" Coalwell asked. "I don't want it to sit on loose gravel -- we need to tamp it back down so it's good and solid."

"I'll make sure that's addressed," Pratt said, assuring the committee that he had no intentions of locating the memorial on top of a sinkhole.

"They (Ness Granite) have the specs for the monument," Schattschneider said. "It will weigh 20,000 pounds plus."

The granite monument will be 12 feet high and almost 11 feet side, he continued, adding that a $10,000 deposit has been placed with Ness Granite Works to guarantee the purchase price of the monument at $62,500.

Now that a concept for the park is in place, "We've got to get to work and start raising some money," said committee member George Peters, noting that up until now, the committee has been holding off on soliciting donations for the project.

Peters said that one thing to mention when asking for donations for the pavers is that while the money is needed now, it is "a living project" that's going to take shape over the next couple of years.

Committee member Harland Thompson asked if the monument lights and fencing for the property should be included in their fundraising efforts.

"I think so," said Peters.

Schattschneider noted that the American Legion has already pledged a $20,000 donation toward the flagpoles and lights.

So far, he added, about 100 granite pavers have been purchased, and all the donations have been recorded at the city office.

Pavers can be purchased in three sizes: 16 by 8 inches, 8 by 8 inches, or 8 by 4 inches. Cost of each is $275, $150 and $90, respectively. The engraving length varies according to the size of the paver.

As for the actual engraving on the pavers, Thompson said, it can pretty much say anything that the donor wants (barring offensive language). It does not need to include the veteran's branch of service, rank, etc.

For more information about the veterans' memorial project, or how to purchase pavers, you can contact any of the following:

-Harland Thompson, 218-850-4883 or 847-3749;

-Dave Coalwell, 234-7689;

-Don Schattschneider, 847-5255;

-George Peters, 847-2008;

-Becker County Veterans Service Office, 846-7312;

-Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, 847-9202;

-Detroit Lakes City Offices, 847-5658.