A group that plans to raise money privately to help fund an enhancement to Veterans Plaza at Mallway Park has incorporated more greenspace into its tentative proposal and will seek the blessing of city leaders next month.
In February, a citizens group called the Veterans Memorial Committee announced plans to seek a more prominent commemoration for residents who have served in the military to be installed at Mallway Park, a roughly 1-acre space at 2096 Arlington Ave. that’s flanked by a business district and Jones Middle School.
Since then, the group and Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department officials have sought public input through open houses and online surveys to get a better sense of the community’s hopes for the project. As a result, the plan has been changed to include more greenspace so the plaza can provide some recreation options to visitors, as well as honor veterans.
“The most significant change has been consolidating the veterans recognition aspect to the front Arlington Avenue part of the park with the remainder of the park being open for many types of park usage,” Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department director Debbie McLaughlin said.
“As much as people supported enhancing the recognition of our veterans, the feedback we received regarding the initial concept was that the expanded recognition area consumed too much of the park and it limited space for other park usage, as well as school use.”
Renderings for the two proposals can be viewed at tinyurl.com/yayelbyh.
One option proposes a permanent wall or marker recognizing local veterans, in addition to “secondary seating” structures in the park.
A second option would provide seating outside the greenspace area and closer to the veterans wall or marker.
McLaughlin and Veterans Memorial Committee member Erik Yassenoff noted that while there are renderings in place, even those plans are preliminary and could be changed before a final design is completed and submitted to the city for approval.
“The plans have a placeholder for the recognition features,” McLaughlin said. “These will be designed later in the process. The committee will review the (public) feedback and recommend one concept to move forward for council review.
“This is a concept to allow the committee to begin a private fundraising campaign; upon completion of the campaign, the design will be finalized.”
Yassenoff said he hopes people will continue to weigh in on the project through the city’s website and by contacting city officials.
“We’re asking residents to tell us if they like one of the proposals or the other, or if they like some of the elements of both,” he said.
There also will be opportunities for public review at a Sept. 17 council conference session, as well as a Sept. 24 meeting at which council is expected to vote on a resolution to allow the project to proceed.
If council OKs the project, that would enable the Veterans Memorial Committee to launch its fundraising campaign.
McLaughlin and Yassenoff said the proposed council action would provide creditability for fundraising.
“We can’t raise money for a project on public property without the support of council,” Yassenoff said.
Currently, the price tag for the project hasn’t been finalized because it hasn’t been formally designed. However, the city will use a $200,000 grant it received from Ohio’s capital-projects budget to pay for a portion of the work.
“The estimated project could cost up to $800,000 based on the actual veteran recognition features,” McLaughlin said. “The current estimate has allowances of $200,000 for these attributes. The project could be installed in phases, if necessary.”
The timeline for the Veterans Plaza upgrades will depend on council’s Sept. 24 vote and the fundraising effort.
McLaughlin said a final design will be established once a project price is determined.
Yassenoff estimated the earliest the project could be completed would be 2020, in part because the committee has taken time to collect public input.
“We want to do this right,” he said. “So we’ll take as much time as it takes.”