A project six years in the making to enhance a public recognition of Upper Arlington servicemen and servicewomen is nearing reality.
Backed by $125,000 in private donations, $200,000 in state grants and $106,100 from the city for design fees and a portion of the building costs, construction on the Veterans Plaza at Mallway Park, 2096 Arlington Ave., is expected to begin by mid-July.
The project has been in the works since roughly 2014, when Erik Yassenoff, then a member of Upper Arlington City Council, and volunteers for the community began discussing ways to upgrade an existing veterans memorial.
As a result, a Veterans Memorial Committee was established and secured public financing and launched the private fundraising campaign.
The group also worked with city officials to design the memorial, building upon two stone pillars built in 1946.
Plans call for creating new planting areas at the front of the 1-acre park, as well as the installation of five panels. The content for the panels hasn't been determined.
"We've been working hard for more than six years now," said Yassenoff, a Veterans Memorial Committee member. "We are excited it's finally coming to fruition.
"We're very humbled by the support from the community for this project."
Jeff Anderson, Upper Arlington's parks planning and development manager, said the "project should wrap up by early November."
Yassenoff said in addition to honoring residents who served in the military, the plaza would recognize those who have worked on peacekeeping missions, natural-disaster recovery and served the community.
Veterans Memorial Committee members also have said they want the plaza to serve as an educational tool for local schools.
"That's a conversation for the future," Yassenoff said. "We still have concepts to include the schools in an educational, active way.
"That's a part I'm really excited about."
Through the design process, revisions were made to maintain green space at Mallway Park, which neighbors Jones Middle School.
Although a planned May 16 groundbreaking was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Yassenoff said, the committee and community members are excited about the progress.
"I was born and raised in Upper Arlington, and I've always been committed to the community," he said. "When I was asked to spearhead this project, it was a no-brainer.
"It's been an honor."