CREEKWOOD — It doesn’t look like much now — just two freshly poured slabs of concrete roped off along the side of Creekwood Boulevard.
But within months, the site will be home to a veterans memorial.
Creekwood residents hope to beautify the spot, located by the sidewalk just in front of Creekwood’s recreational facility, with a memorial plaque honoring veterans as well as flowers and other landscaping improvements. A bench will sit next to the memorial, offering a place for visitors to relax.
“It’s a two-fold project,” said Mike Walley, Creekwood Master Association president. “It’s thanking veterans for their service and at the same time, it’s creating a nice memorial within the community.”
The project is being funded by the master association and a matching grant through Manatee County’s Neighborhood Enhancement Grant Program at a total cost of about $4,400. Work includes the purchase and installation of three benches along sidewalks throughout the community as well as the memorial and a 20-foot lighted flagpole. U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan is working to secure a flag that has flown over the White House, said Sharon Fannin, project manager and resident.
“I think that’s fantastic,” Fannin said of Buchanan’s efforts. “I think that makes it more special. It’s going to be a feeling of patriotism for the whole community.”
Creekwood is planning a tribute to veterans and a dedication for the new memorial at 11 a.m., May 29.
Although there’s no doubt among residents that veterans should be honored, at least a handful of residents are opposing the memorial, saying association dollars could be better spent and that the location of the memorial is inappropriate.
Resident Elizabeth Sullivan said Creekwood is in need of several safety improvements, including motion lights for the basketball courts, which would provide the community’s youth with more play time while also deterring crime, as well as fountains for the lakes, mailbox repairs and other improvements.
“These things are all costly, and they are a higher priority than a memorial,” she said. “God bless our veterans. My cousin passed away from Agent Orange … I understand that. (But) if you have money, you don’t waste it. You put it back in the community. If you are going to do something to help a veteran, you put it in their pocket. A memorial is not going to feed anybody. A memorial is not going to send a dead body home.”
Resident Marlene Hutchings agreed. The ex-Air Force nurse said she wants to honor veterans but has kept safety as a No. 1 concern since her daughter’s car was burglarized a few years ago.
“I have the utmost respect for veterans, but it’s kind of putting the cart before the horse for priorities,” she said of the memorial.
Sullivan also said the memorial should be placed in a more dignified location instead of a spot along the roadway.
The county grant requires any improvement projects to be completed within county right-of-way, which eliminates a more secluded location.
Walley said the memorial and benches bring value to the community and that money is not being wasted.
“It’s very easy to say you can spend money on other things,” Walley said. “We have to make decisions and balance our budget expenditures to cover a variety of different areas.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
IN OTHER NEWS
At the Creekwood Master Association meeting Feb. 23, the Creekwood board of directors agreed to move forward with renovations to the community’s pool and deck area. Walley said improvements likely will begin in March.
Additionally, the board approved a proposal by Bloomings, the entity’s landscape contractor, to beautify Creekwood’s front entrance off State Road 70 and Creekwood Boulevard with new landscaping that will consist of flowering plants and other plantings.