Members of city government and area veterans organizations met Monday to break ground at the site of what will eventually become Veterans Memorial Park.
Located near the intersection of West Third Street and Logan Avenue, the park will consist of three stone circles joined by walkways. The largest circle, located in the center, will be built around the flagpole that already exists in the park.
"It was a few years ago that a few people had a vision of establishing a veterans memorial here," said Ron Cotten, Jamestown Veterans Memorial Commission chairman. "It was a group that gathered to try to put together a plan. To all of these people, we owe much to their vision, their work and their dedication. Today, we're beginning to break ground on that vision."
Various veterans organizations represented in the photo at top were at Monday’s ceremony, where they were invited to shovel a pile of dirt at the site of the memorial, symbolizing the beginning of construction on the project. Members of the American Legion Post 880 Color Guard are pictured standing in silence as the benediction was given at Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed Veteran’s Memorial Park.
P-J photos by Ryan Atkins
On Wednesday, heavy equipment will converge on the park in order to begin the process involved with readying the area for construction.
"We arrived here today because of the commitment of many people, organizations and foundations," said Cotten. "To all of those people, the organizations and the individuals who have donated to make that possible - this is the beginning for phase one of this project."
Many area organizations have been involved in making the construction of Veterans Memorial Park possible, including the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Sheldon Foundation, Hultquist Foundation, Gebbie Foundation, Jamestown Vietnam Veterans Association, Veterans of Modern Warfare, Amvets Post 726, Jamestown Daughters of the American Revolution, Vietnam Veterans Firing Squad, Sons of Amvets Post 726, John W. Tiffany VFW Post 53, and American Legion Post 880.
"This is another great day for the city of Jamestown as we move forward on a project that many folks have worked hard on over the past years," said Mayor Sam Teresi. "I think it's highly appropriate that the Jamestown model of getting things done is consistent with the model that this country has been following for more than 200 years to keep us safe and free - teamwork. Teamwork on the part of our citizens, our military and the veterans that this park is going to celebrate from this point forward. It takes teamwork to take a dream and move it to a goal, and it takes teamwork to move that goal to reality, and that's exactly what has happened here today."
Phase one of the project will entail the development of the main central circle, which will surround the existing flagpole at the park. The main circle will be 60 feet in diameter and will be constructed out of stamped concrete that resembles red brick. There will also be a granite curb surrounding the circle, and lights will be installed to illuminate the flag in the center of the memorial.
During this phase of the project, the foundation for a future monument will also be constructed in the vicinity of the planned third circle portion of the overall project. This initial phase of construction is estimated to cost roughly $66,000.
According to Cotten, the proposed memorial, which will eventually be placed in the third circle, will be dedicated to all who have served in times of war and peace.
"This project has had very strong, passionate, committed and effective leadership in the form of Ron Cotten," said Teresi. "This is a guy with a can-do attitude. He gets things done, and this is just the latest example of what he's done for this community and on behalf of veterans and veterans' causes."
According to Teresi, a group of veterans from Eden who were in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony recently held a fundraiser and are donating the remaining funds to be used toward the completion of Veterans Memorial Park.
"There's been a terrific community response, which has gotten us to the point of funding the center circle of the memorial," said Teresi.
Additionally, during Monday's City Council meeting, it was announced the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation recently agreed to donate an additional $10,000 of discretionary funds to be used toward the project. The city also received a letter from the Hultquist Foundation, which will be donating an additional $15,000 toward the project. With those two increases in funding, along with various other initiatives, the construction of the park may be accelerated. Including what is left in the tax-deductible donation fund that was set up at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the level of funding raised for the project has reached nearly $95,000.
"This park is important to both veterans and the community because if you think back, from Lexington and Concord to the present, people have always answered the call of duty," said Cotten. "These are the people who put their lives on the line and the only segment of the community that really has. They have signed an agreement that they will pay the full price if called upon to do so, and this shows them and the community that there is recognition of their service."