Opposing sides agree to discuss concerns, hold informational meeting
By Barbie Porter
The proposed Veteran’s Memorial Park project in Vergas wasn’t well received by everyone.
During the monthly Vergas City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 13, members of the veteran’s park spoke, as did residents opposing the project.
The proposed Veteran’s Memorial Park would stretch 62 feet from end to end. Granite pillars would be installed and each pillar would have an insignia for each branch of the military. A flag for each branch would be installed as would the U.S. Flag.
The proposed park called for eight pillars that would each be 6 feet tall. One pillar would be specifically for POWs, one for MIA, one for KIA, one for purple heart recipients and the more for others that served.
The proposed location for the Veteran’s Memorial Park is near the baseball and recreational field located near downtown Vergas.
A representative from the memorial committee said the target goal is to raise between $85,000 and $100,000. With minimal fundraising effort, $30,000 has already been donated, he said.
At the council meeting, a resident stated a petition had been circulated and 76 residents opposed the memorial, of which six were identified as veterans. (It should be noted the petition signatures have not be verified.) The opposition of the new memorial was stated to be with the location and the failure to recognize there was already a veteran memorial at the city cemetery located along County Highway 4.
A member of the memorial committee said the two memorial sites have different concepts. He explained the one at the cemetery is more solemn, and he felt that site should continue to be the gathering place for ceremonies during Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. The new park concept would be more visible and provide a park-like atmosphere, he added.
“We see two memorials with two different functions,” he said.
A resident suggested the funds raised instead be given to homeless veterans or services providing assistance to veterans struggling with mental health.
“We got a memorial that is good enough,” he said.
Another resident suggested enhancing the current memorial, and placing signage near the road, as many people may not know that memorial exists.
Another resident, who stated he was a veteran, questioned where people would park or access the proposed memorial to enjoy it. He also supported adding to the current memorial and felt it was an insult to build another one down the street. He also asked the committee to consider the noise level being so close to the road and train tracks.
A memorial committee member said a parking lot had been planned, as well a sidewalk leading to the memorial.
Vergas Mayor Julie Bruhn said she received several calls after plans for the proposed memorial made the newspaper. The most noted concern was the location and lack of parking was second.
The council agreed honoring the service members of the past and present was appreciated, and supported. However, more discussion was encouraged between the memorial committee and those opposing the park.
The memorial committee embraced further discussion, and before the opposing sides left the council chambers there was an agreement to have people from both sides view the current memorial and the proposed one. The memorial committee stated after the two sites are viewed and more discussion had, an informational meeting would be arranged for further public input.