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Veterans Memorial Building process underway

Dickinson Press - 1/11/2017

Jan. 11--The Dickinson Park Board kicked off the beginning of the planning and building of the new Veteran's pavilion at their meeting Monday afternoon.

The board gave the affirmative and will now begin drafting a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction management of the building, which will be built in Memorial Park to the east of the Veteran's Memorial.

James Kramer, director of the city's parks and recreation, said the board will probably draft the RFP in the next week to 10 days and will hopefully begin soliciting proposals by the end of the month.

Kramer said he thinks the community appreciates its veterans, but noted that Dickinson also has, "a very involved group of veterans themselves who are out promoting and doing things to make the community a better place."

One such veteran is Art Wanner, the vice president of the Stark County Veterans Memorial Association. Wanner spent 32 years as a member of the National Guard working all over the state.

"I think the thing that we've found in the community, there's such a great amount of support for veterans, and that's appreciated," Wanner said. "... It's a beautiful setting. It would enhance the whole area as far as making it a veterans memorial park, which is the goal, and so, with that in mind, with the support that we've seen, and the support that we feel we have in the community, it's going to be a drawing card for the community."

The building would provide a space for the public to rent for weekend activities, reunions and business meetings, he said. None of the local veteran groups currently have a meeting space and have to rent locations, he said.

"This would give us a base to operate out of," Wanner said. "One of the deals that we've had with the Park Board is if we help with the raising money for that building, it would be a tradeoff that we would have the space to hold our meetings in that building, so we would have first priority for it."

The veterans have raised more than $300,000 for the project and the Park Board has promised to contribute another $300,000, he said. They had initially estimated that the construction would cost roughly $600,000, but initial estimates from the architect suggested the project may range from $800,000 to more than $900,000.

Wanner said he is unsure whether the Park Board would consider giving more money to the project, but said the board encouraged the veterans to try and raise as much money as they can. The veterans have been speaking with local businesses asking for donations and will hold a benefit breakfast in April. They are hoping to raise another $200,000, he said.

Some veteran-owned contract businesses expressed an interest in bidding on the building. Some have said they would give the veterans a bottom line figure and may even contribute to some of that cost to help make the building a reality, Wanner said.

His personal vision for the building is to have a stained glass window depicting the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima or something of that nature.

"The committee has worked really hard to make this a reality, and it's a testimony to the community for the support that we had received so far," Wanner said. "It's been wonderful, and the committee really does appreciate everything that has been done by the community."

The veterans and Park Board hope to complete the 3,500-square foot project by next Veteran's Day, 2017. The building will have a meeting room, a kitchen warming area as well as both indoor and outdoor bathrooms.

"We think this is the next piece that fits in that memorial park area," Kramer said.

The Park Board may need to make any necessary upgrades to the band shell, but then the entire memorial park would be completed making this a "focal point in the community," Kramer said.

Mayor Scott Decker, who spent 21 years serving in the U.S. Army, also noted the importance the building will have to both the veterans and the city as a whole.

"I think it's a great step forward to getting the veterans the building that is deserved in the community," Decker said. "... It also will be a great addition to the city of Dickinson for all the citizens to use and another important factor in us improving our quality of life in Dickinson."


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