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Veterans Memorial Committee Seeks Members And Support

Planned Park And Monuments To Tie Together Several Themes Sweeping changes are in the works for the grassy areas flanking the Towanda side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge that carries Route 6 across the Susquehanna River from East Towanda and Wysox. A multiphase and multifaceted project, which will proceed as members of the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association amass necessary funding, will prove not only aesthetically pleasing but will also provide more continuity to several other projects started in the area in recent years. The initial phase of the plan will be a renovation of the existing Roger A. Madigan Park and the continuation of a sidewalk that has become known as “the path to nowhere” under the bridge to a new parking lot with as yet unconfirmed access to the Merrill Parkway and the Robert D. Farley Connector, which links traffic to Main Street/Route 6. Between the new parking area, which will be constructed of permeable bricks, and Main Street will be a larger park dedicated to veterans of America’s greatest military conflicts, from the Colonial era to the modern day. “We’d like it to perform a purpose,” project leader Joe Doherty said of the completed walkway and parking area, which will also serve as a trail head to the quarter-mile walking path adjacent to Towanda’s Riverfront Park. In addition to making better use of the area, the dual parks are intended to serve as a memorial to both military veterans and civilians, with Madigan Park representing Bradford County’s 51 municipalities. Many of the materials in the existing park will be re-used. New features will include a statue of an American eagle, a second flagpole, and decorative lighting. The plans for the park dedicated to veterans are much more extensive and include a monumental stone inscribed with an original poem titled “The Veteran,” a reflecting pool, a bronze sculpture referred to as “The War-Ravaged Tree,” granite benches, new trees, and a five-sided rotunda with a glass-type roof, and another original sculpture called “The Quintessential Soldier.” A row of flags honoring the five branches of the military will be paired with POW/MIA, U.S., and state flags. The poem was written by Philadelphia police officer and Vietnam War Navy veteran John Kozin, and the statues were designed by Robert Eccleston of Lake Placid, NY. A series of walkways, which will split around the reflective pool at the lower end of the park, will be comprised of 2-by-2-foot granite flagstones and 8-by-4-inch honorarium granite pavers, the latter of which will honor individual veterans who lived in Bradford County. Granite was selected for the pavers, Doherty noted, “because they will last forever.” Ten large granite markers lining the outer edges of the park will be dedicated to various wars and conflicts throughout United States history. “This will be a memorial park where everybody can be honored in one place,” said Doherty, who saw a need for a new park after he was directed to the former veterans memorial at Elizabeth and Charles Streets. “It was in a state of disrepair, and it was in a place where nobody could see it,” said fellow committee member George Crowell. To the best of his recollection, the old park was built about 40 years ago as a collaboration between the American Legion and the VFW. Doherty took his inspiration from a veterans memorial park in Elmira and solicited the approval of the Bradford County Commissioners and Towanda Borough Council before building a committee and seeking a practical, reverent, and attractive design. “The borough has been very supportive,” said Crowell, who serves as administrative officer for the group. Additional Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association committee members include Matthew Brann, Kathryn Field, Sally Vaughn, Nicholas Hadlock, Lisa Kerr, and Sylvia Ellis. Associate advisors include Chris Hill and Dennis Wolfe, Sr. According to Doherty, the committee has entered into a binding agreement with the borough to complete the project. Crowell related that a pending $200,000 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant will cover the cost of engineering studies, the completion of Madigan Park, the construction of the walkway, and, hopefully, the installation of the eco-friendly parking lot. “This is a unique opportunity to build that parking lot without placing a burden on the taxpayer,” Doherty stated. The continuation of the project, however, will depend on the support of businesses and the public. “The bulk of the project will have to be funded by industries and local companies,” Doherty explained. The sale of the honorarium paver bricks will provide some of the materials needed to construct the walkways, but they are being sold at a minimum profit margin. “We’re making it easy to attract all veterans in the county,” Doherty said of the $50 price tag on the individual bricks, which will be inscribed to order with the name of each veteran to be honored. For an order form, interested readers may log on to www.bcvmpa.org. The organization is also looking for additional members from all parts of Bradford County. Although most of the current members are either veterans or sons and daughters of veterans, “That is not a prerequisite,” Doherty asserted, adding that he is simply looking for people who “have a heart for veteran-related issues” who have time to help with the park project.

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