MACEDONIA — Officials are hoping to complete the front part of Nordonia Hills Veterans Memorial Park, as well as restrooms, by the end of summer, as local veterans groups and the city work toward finishing the park.
While work edges forward at the 3/4-acre site on Route 82 between South Bedford Road and South Bedford Court, the veterans groups hope a foundation to raise additional funds will be finalized by early summer.
"It was decided that the best way to raise funds to finish the project was to create a foundation," explained American Legion Post 801 Commander and foundation head David Pristash, who added five trustees and three advisers make up the foundation.
"Since the veterans park idea was conceived in 2015, volunteers have put in thousands of hours of work and donated some of their own money, but we need much more money before the park is complete," said Pristash.
"We’d like to complete the park next year, but realistically it could be 2021. It’s a big project, and we still need a lot of money to finish it. In the end, it will probably cost between $400,000 and $500,000."
Pristash said about half that total already has been raised, and this year’s main focus is on firming up the front portion of the park, including adding a circle to display a plaque.
Pristash said in addition to money already donated and spent, local individuals and companies have donated materials and supplies.
The city has pledged labor to install restrooms, the cost of which should be covered by a $10,000 donation from former Northfield Park owner Brock Milstein. Mayor Nick Molnar said the restrooms should be completed this summer.
"We are finalizing drawings to show where the sewer and water lines to the restrooms will be located, and hope to get the installation started soon," he said. "It shouldn’t be a major job.
"Since the city maintains the park, we plan to do the restroom installation in-house. We’ve done much of the recreation center addition that way, and really saved a lot of money."
In addition to a gazebo on the site, other items in place are a front entrance archway and main plaza with pavers, brick retaining wall, three flags on poles, five benches, one picnic table, a 57mm anti-tank gun from WW II, a 75mm artillery barrel from WW I and granite panels representing the War on Terror, Vietnam War and WW I.
Pristash said the WW I monument will be relocated in 2020 when monuments from six other conflicts hopefully are in place.
Remaining war monuments are from Korea, World War II, Spanish American, Civil, 1812 and Revolutionary. Each monument will display a description of the conflict, dates and casualty statistics.
Other amenities and work planned are pavers in the WW I circle, more benches, a picnic pavilion, completion of the sprinkler system, expanded parking lot, grading for ADA compliance, a Killed in Action pond and fountain, landscaping, completion of the Pathway to Freedom and a parking lot entrance archway.
The Killed in Action section will contain names of military personnel from Nordonia Hills communities who died in combat. Anyone who knows of a casualty should provide name and appropriate records to the Legion.
In addition to Legion Post 801 and the city, VFW Post 9768 has been instrumental in the project to a lesser degree, according to Pristash, who was a captain in the U.S. Army and also is a VFW member.
Pristash said the city has owned the small park since 1928, and Legion members approached city officials in 2015 with the idea to turn it into a memorial honoring veterans.
A landscape architect and engineering firm were hired at a minimal cost and fundraising for the project began in 2016, with Milstein pledging his $10,000 and an anonymous donor chipping in a similar amount.
A dedication ceremony took place in September 2017 after Phase I was completed.
Donations for pavers, benches, picnic tables and other amenities are encouraged. The park website — www.nordoniahillsveteransmemorialpark.com — has information and forms to help donors make a contribution.
Area residents wishing to contribute or who would like more information also can call 216-703-6180.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or email@example.com.