It’s a small space, 1.3 acres to be exact, but when the park on the corner of Vine and Main Street is completed, it will be a place to relax, celebrate and remember war veterans.
Groundbreaking for the Tooele City memorial square was held Feb. 17. It was the final phase of a long project for the Elks Lodge, said Dave McCall, veterans’ coordinator for the lodge. McCall, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps, said “a lot of citizens of Tooele have been looking forward to building (the memorial).”
The Elks Lodge approached the city with plans to build the veterans memorial two years ago, McCall said. When the monument was approved, Elks began hosting Monday night fundraising dinners. The dinners go for $5 a plate and all food is donated by the cooks. When the project started only a handful of people attend the event. But now Monday nights see 70-80 people lining up for the chow.
Money has also been raised by the sale of bricks to be featured as part of the memorial, McCall said. Elks have sold 400 of the bricks, which go for $100 apiece and feature the name of a veteran. Bricks have been purchased by friends and families of vets, or even by the veterans themselves who want to contribute to the project.
“People from all over,” have purchased bricks, McCall said. “Everyone who is aware of the bricks is really looking forward to seeing it.”
The order has been placed for the monument, which will feature five stones, one for each modern war. The stones represent veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Middle East wars.
A display of seven flags will complete the memorial. The American flag will be front and center with flags from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and POW/MIA flags arranged in a semi-circle around it, he said.
Dedication of the revamped park and the veterans’ memorial is scheduled for Memorial Day on May 30. Plans for the event include a military parade and a fly-over by Hill Air Force Base, said Kathy Harris, Tooele City parks and recreation supervisor.
Gov. Jon Huntsman has also been invited to attend, but he has not yet replied to the invitation. The memorial located on the south side of the park, will be the focal point of the square, but the entire park is being revamped, Harris said.
The park will have “tons of trees,” park benches, a working water fountain and recalculating stream, Harris said. The city is also rewiring the park to provide enough electricity for concerts, farmers’ markets and holiday tree lighting ceremonies.
“It is a perfect location in town,” Harris said. The city hopes to make the park more user friendly and more attractive than it has been in the past.
Childs Enterprises, a local contractor, won the bid to regroom the park area.