LAKEWOOD RANCH — Work on a veterans memorial park planned for a grassy patch at San Marco Plaza is finally under way.
Organizers on June 16 broke ground on the project, which will include monuments honoring the five branches of the military, concrete standards mounted with plaques honoring past, present and future veterans and a liquid fireworks display, among other features.
“What better way to honor all veterans whether past, present or future,” VFW Post 12055 Commander George Johnston said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Bob Moffa, president of the American Ideals Foundation, the group spearheading the project, said construction will begin with the installation of monuments and flags at the park’s entryway as well as the leveling of the grassy area behind the Country Pancake House & Restaurant and the installation of brick pavers in that area. Moffa said his organization is still looking for sponsorships for the $1.4 million park, which is slated to open by Veterans Day weekend.
“This will be the biggest venture of this type (my organization has done) and a benchmark to do others,” Moffa said, noting five cities nationwide already have expressed interest in doing similar projects.
Moffa and fellow park committee members — Richard Allen, Bill Wallace, David Neff, John Swart and Dell Hyland — expect the park, which also will include a new stage area, will be used for special veterans events and other festivities, including Memorial Day and Fourth of July ceremonies to honor veterans.
The park also is expected to generate traffic to local businesses in San Marco Plaza and Main Street, he said.
“It not only will be great for our veterans, but it will also be great for our community,” Moffa said.
Allen, who was the original architect for San Marco Plaza, said the courtyard area being used for the memorial park was always intended to be a place for plaza festivities. Seeing the area turned into a park honoring veterans is special for him as a U.S. Air Force veteran.
“It’s very rewarding,” Allen said. “To acknowledge the veterans and see something like this that’s concrete be developed (is wonderful). It will mean completing the plaza, which never really got (finished).”
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