By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — City council members approved $300,000 toward a new Veteran’s Park and War Memorial planned for north of Henry Ford Centennial Library this year.
The council was asked to authorize the finance director to appropriate the $300,000 shortfall and authorize the director of Economic and Community Development to execute all change orders or modifications.
Also, the council awarded a completive contract to Tools Contracting Group, LLC, in an amount not expected to exceed $1,116,643, with a contingency of $41,557 for the Veterans Park and War Memorial.
The resolution was passed in a 5-1 roll call vote with Councilman Thomas Tafelski opposing and Councilman David Bazzy absent.
AK Steel contributed $1 million for the creation of a Veterans Park as its lone source of funding before the city committed the $300,000 from its general fund.
Neumann Smith Architecture was the firm to create the design.
The city plans to build the park and memorial where the fountain currently sits.
“This park is a wonderful relocation of the war memorial and also provides for future events that might be able to occur outside the library,” Economic and Community Development Director Barry Murray said. “The reconstruction will remove the obsolete fountain and replace it with plaza and memorial.”
The main part of the project will feature the current Veterans Park moved from the former City Hall as well as the American flag and the flags representing the five branches of the country’s military.
A complete vision project has also been planned with additional attractions. Included would be exhibits, peace garden and a timeline of conflicts the United States has been involved in. If additional parts are added in the future, the total project will cost around $2.7 million.
“While there have been many conflicts that are being honored here, peace is what is ultimately being sought,” Murray said.
The issue of earning the roughly $100,000 needed for uplighting on the flags was addressed by the mayor who said he was planning to fundraise for the money needed.
“I think this project is important for two reasons,” Councilman Robert Abraham said. “The obvious one is to recognize the veterans in our community that have given so much to us and our nation. Also, moving the memorial to a more prominent location has its benefits as well, the fountain has taken away the architectural beauty of the library.”
The current war memorial established in May 1991 features four megaliths with names of the soldiers from Dearborn killed in World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War.
The new Veterans Park and Memorial is expected to be completed by Memorial Day to honor all soldiers who have served in the U.S. military.
The move comes after Artspace bought the former City Hall complex for its loft project.
The city moved its operations to the Dearborn Administrative Center in the center of the city.
Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Commander Sean Green thanked the council for their approval and support.
“You go all over this country and don’t see this,” he said. “I’ve traveled quite a bit and go to other cities where I talk about Dearborn. What people are learning about Dearborn is that it is one of the most patriotic cities in the country.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)