Download a rendering of the proposed memorial here.
LAKEWOOD RANCH — East County Realtor David Neff believes San Marco Plaza is the most beautiful shopping center in the area.
And it’s one of the reasons he and a group of four other men are working to bring a memorial honoring military veterans of past, present and future on a grassy patch behind the plaza.
“We thought it would be the ideal location for this type of memorial,” said Neff, who is orchestrating the project with Bob Moffa, Bill Wallace, Dick Allen and Dell Hyland. “It’s a perfect opportunity to honor our veterans. We think it would be a wonderful addition to Lakewood Ranch — something good that everyone can enjoy.”
Total project costs are about $1.4 million, which the group hopes to raise through sponsorships and donations.
As proposed, the memorial will begin in the walkway leading out to the circular, grassy area behind the Country Pancake House & Restaurant. A landscaped area through the center of the walkway would display flags from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
The round grassy field area behind the restaurant would be leveled and covered with brick pavers. Eight-foot-long, sloped concrete standards would line the sides of the circle as well as a grassy strip between the circle and the parking lot. Individuals could purchase black granite plaques inscribed with the name of their loved one to place on the concrete standards.
Outside approval be required for the memorial’s most elaborate feature — a liquid fireworks display in the pond. The display, similar to the work seen at www.waltzingwaters.com, uses a series of fountains to shoot water in various patterns to music. Colored lights add more excitement to the arrangement.
As part of that effort, organizers also hope to replace the existing wooden patio with a lower-sitting concrete stage and seating.
“It’s nice to have a remembrance for all the veterans who have served,” said Allen, owner of RGA Architects and the designer behind San Marco Plaza itself and the proposed memorial.
Neff said the group is presenting its plan to Schroeder-Manatee Ranch President Rex Jensen for his blessing.
The “fireworks” feature alone will cost about $1.2 million.
Once completed, the park would be available for veterans events throughout the year.
“The idea is to get more people out and visiting the shops and seeing what’s going on in Lakewood Ranch,” said Neff, a Realtor with JS Realty Corp.
Kevin Neurer, president of the San Marco Plaza Condominium Association, said merchants in are in full support of the project.
“During the past years, we’ve had many setbacks here, and it’s nice to see something positive coming to the plaza,” Neurer said. “As a retired military officer, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to honor the veterans in our local community,” he said. “It’s an absolutely fantastic idea.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
FALLEN HEROES MEMORIAL
Supervisors in Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 2 are expected to hear more details about a proposal to place a Fallen Heroes Memorial outside Lakewood Ranch Town Hall and possibly vote on the issue, at their May 20 meeting.
Neff said the two memorials, if approved, would complement each other and possibly would help generate more traffic between Main Street and San Marco Plaza.