Sylacauga veterans seek improvements at park
by Mark Ledbetter
Jun 22, 2013 | 1446 views |  0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If plans go through and funds can be raised, the memorials honoring U.S. war veterans located at the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce will find a new home at the Veterans Park on U.S. 280.
If plans go through and funds can be raised, the memorials honoring U.S. war veterans located at the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce will find a new home at the Veterans Park on U.S. 280.
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SYLACAUGA – Local veterans met with Sylacauga Mayor Doug Murphree and Parks and Recreation Director Jim Armstrong to discuss plans to renovate and upgrade the Pinecrest-Veteran’s Park.

Armstrong presented a modified plan previously drawn by an architect to veterans representing the American Legion Post 45 and the Vietnam Veterans Association 945. Also attending the meeting were Retired Seniors Volunteer Program Director Ginny Archer and local resident Earl Lewis. Lewis worked with former Pinecrest Elementary principal, the late Orbie Mays, to establish the park in the late 60s. It was named the Pinecrest Walking Track. Lewis said the park was later renamed the Pinecrest-Veterans Walking Track in the mid-90s.

Murphree said some had discussed the idea of renovating the park and he wanted to meet to start a dialogue and not allow the issue be put on “the backburner.”

Armstrong presented a concept that included the present memorial, but added extra walls for plaques and with individual walls to represent the different branches of military. Families would be able to purchase and place engraved marble markers honoring family members who served.

Murphree said, “We can’t spend a lot of money, but we do want something nice.”

According to Armstrong’s plan, the memorial would include six walls that serve as frames for the memorial marble plaques, and each branch of service would be represented by an individual wall.

Sylacauga resident and vice-president of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veteran’s of America Post 945 said he was concerned that with as many army veterans that have served, a single wall would be insufficient.

Armstrong said the proposed park would probably be at least three times larger than the present memorial and the design could include room for future expansion. He also suggested red brick and marble would provide a “classy” look and would be “timeless.”

Armstrong also suggested landscaping to include the removal of several pine trees and planting of other trees, such as maples, to set off the memorial.

Veteran Robert Pruett said he thought the removal of the trees would make the memorial more visible to motorists traveling U.S. 280 than it is now.

Armstrong said, with proper lighting and the pine trees removed, the memorial would “really, really look good.”

After discussing the need for raising funds for the project, Armstrong pointed out the need to start with having someone draw plans for the memorial. He said plans would need to include specific details to help provide estimates for the project.

“Since the park belongs to the city,” Armstrong said, “the project will have to be bidded out.”

Armstrong said he estimated the project would cost at least $150,000.

Jim Heigl said the memorials located at the Chamber of Commerce on the corner of Ft. Williams and Norton would need to be relocated.

The ad hoc committee agreed that the first order of business would be to secure someone to draw plans for the project, and if trees were removed, the activity would generate interest in the project.

Armstrong said his department is responsible for the park and would like to see a first-class park to honor the veterans.

Jonathan Hall, president of the VVA, said a new memorial is extremely important and wanted to see an ongoing recognition for veterans.

“We want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to our brothers,” Hall said.

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com