Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Roanoke City veterans deserve a monument now

Web DSC09189SEE UPDATED: According to an email from Councilman Rupert Cutler a “substantial new memorial” honoring veterans is still planned for riverside park.

The demise of Victory Stadium still stings. It was build shortly after the end of WWII and named “Victory” in honor of the veterans who served and sacrificed their lives. These veterans and their offspring as well as current veterans expect nothing less than the promise of 2006 to be kept.

The email from Dr. Cutler is lacking in detail. It reveals no more than what the resolution contained when the resolution was passed to demolish Victory Stadium. Once the armory and parks and recreation buildings are demolished next year riverside park can then proceed. The park will incorporate a monument.

Just how long this will be is not clear. Riverside park is not in the five-year capital improvement plan. Leon Younger, the consultant who was paid for a study for riverside park estimated a cost of  $53 mil. Though this had a sobering effect on council at the time there have been no other plans put forth other than some council briefing mumblings not shared with Roanoke residents.

As Roanoke city residents wait for a “vision” from council for riverside so do the city’s veterans. Start the plans now; assemble a committee to plan a design and vet sculptors and contractors. It should be the focal point on the Victory Stadium site. The park can then be modestly built around it.

Vinton and Roanoke County broke ground on a monument to honor veterans last year. Roanoke city has embarrassingly lagged behind.

“Looking forward to the day” per Dr. Cutler is unacceptable.  Veterans alive today may not be alive next month or next year. They should at least get a chance to see it. Start planing now for building it next year as soon as the armory is demolished. The city is putting aside one percent towards funding public art throughout the city. Is not a work of art for our veterans more important?


Email from Councilman Rupert Cutler:

Roanoke City Council has provided for the construction of a substantial new memorial to honor Roanoke area veterans to be built on the site of the now-demolished Victory Stadium on the Roanoke River.

On May 15, 2006, Roanoke City Council passed a resolution directing the city manager to proceed with the demolition of Victory Stadium. That resolution included these words:

“The City Manager is hereby directed to ensure that any future use of the stadium site includes a memorial, composed of some of the original brick from the stadium, reflecting the presence and significance of the stadium, as well as memorializing Coach Bob “Guts” McClelland for whom the playing field is named.”

To that end, approximately 300 palletized bricks, or three pallets, have been saved from the demolition of Victory Stadium and securely stored at the City’s Public Works facility, to be included in the new veterans’ memorial structure.

The National Guard armory, former city parks and recreation department headquarters building, and city schools maintenance office building on Reserve Avenue will be demolished next year, clearing the way for a new city park along the river that will definitely include the fine, new monument to honor our veterans. We look forward to the day when all of you join City officials in the unveiling of that fine new veterans’ monument, in a fine new riverside city park.

UPDATE from Dr. Cutler to timeline and funding questions:

A park design consultant [Leon Younger] has prepared plans for the new park between Reserve and the river that have been shown to Council. They seemed somewhat “over the top” to some of us in terms of water slides, etc., but the planning is underway within the context of a parks and rec master plan for the City. So we’re probably looking at a construction period during 2011-2012. Steve Buschor could tell you with more accuracy. My assumption is that the veterans’ memorial will be designed and commissioned much like the Gainsboro Library statues were, through the Arts Commission and Susan Jennings. I suppose the funds could come from the Percent for Art Fund, but Susan Jennings can give you a better perspective on that.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events, Roanoke City Politics

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