MACEDONIA — A foundation seeking to honor area veterans with a park at the southeast corner of Route 82 and South Bedford Road has achieved some important recognition from the federal government.

The Nordonia Hills Veterans Memorial Park Foundation announced July 30 that the IRS has granted the foundation a 501(c)(3) charity designation in the conversion of the city’s Memorial Park to the Veterans Memorial Park.

"This was a major achievement, accomplished in record time, which now allows the foundation to contact other charities that have the ability to provide grants of the size required to finish the park," said Foundation President and American Legion Nordonia Hills Post 801 Commander Dave Pristash. "We have major donors waiting for this designation so we expect that we will be receiving donations from them shortly."

The effort is a combined initiative of the post and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6768.

"We thank the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6768 officers and members for all they have done to make this happen," Pristash said. "The Legion and the VFW will still be able to support the park project with the only change being the Legion will no longer be handling the funds. All donations from this point forward should be directed to the foundation."

Pristash said Friday that the project is estimated to cost about $500,000, including about $350,000 in cash and the remainder in non-monetary donations, such as materials and labor including about $60,000 worth from the city. About $200,000 in funding is still needed, said Pristash.

A number of installations are planned surrounding a gazebo that has been in the park for a number of years. Some things have already been put into place on the park’s north side. This includes a main entrance archway, walkways, placed bricks, a restored World War I artillery barrel and World War II anti-tank gun with plaques, main plaza, flag poles, World War I, Vietnam War and War on Terror monuments, two granite benches from the Legion and VFW posts, several donated benches, a brick retaining wall, a picnic table, and part of a sprinkler system.

But much still needs to be done, some of which there is funding for, but not all. This includes eight conflict monuments, eight more benches, an expansion to the parking lot, a parking lot entrance archway, completion of the "Pathway to Freedom," a "Killed in Action" retention pond with a fountain, a picnic pavilion with additional picnic tables, a restroom with electricity, tree and flower plantings and a completion of the lawn sprinkler system. The north side of the park has been graded for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, but the south half still needs to be done, said Pristash.

Some things, like the concrete pad for the pavilion and additional pathway work could be in this fall, while other things such as the parking lot and retention pond and are expected to be installed next year, said Pristash.

The project originated in January 2015 when Carl Quesenberry of American Legion Post 801 suggested the creation of a memorial to honor veterans and Post Chaplain Tom O’Brien lobbied the city to allow the memorial in Memorial Park, with then-Mayor Don Kuchta and City Council agreeing.

In 2016, new Mayor Joseph Migliorini suggested that the entire park be converted into one large memorial for veterans. The post’s Advisory Planning Committee invited the VFW post to participate and plans began for a total of 11 monuments in addition to a main memorial. Work began in 2017.

In 2018, however, the posts realized that it would take several years to complete the project and a separate entity was needed. The foundation incorporated last fall and its organization was completed in February. The foundation applied for 501(c)(3) status in April.

Go to www.nhvmp.com for more information, including how to make donations.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.