Warner Robins council reviews first designs for proposed veterans park

chwright@macon.comJuly 15, 2013 

Vietnam Veteran Tom McLendon, of Byron, looks at a wall of names at Jackson Veterans Memorial Park. McLendon joined two Warner Robins council members on a tour of four veterans parks in Georgia last week.

WARNER ROBINS -- A first take on what a veterans memorial park could look like was presented to City Council on Monday.

After the precouncil and council meetings, council members and Mayor Chuck Shaheen returned to the City Hall conference room for a presentation from Mario Cambardella, of Atlanta-based Cambardella Environmental Planning and Landscape Architecture.

“I really like what he came up with,” said Councilman Mike Davis. “If I had to vote right now, I’d vote to do what he has right there.”

City Council recently purchased Walker’s Pond for $75,000. Now, some council members want the veterans park to be incorporated into what Cambardella called an “active memorial.”

The design he presented would cost between $980,000 and $1.3 million. It includes a jogging track that surrounds the 26-acre pond, four plane structures, a splash pad and picnic areas. Names of fallen soldiers would be engraved near the planes.

“I wanted a design where, if you took out pieces, it would not disrupt the whole concept,” Cambardella said.

The city earmarked $900,000 in the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax for a veterans park and Vietnam veterans park, which had been planned to be near Interstate 75. Shaheen said the money could be split down the middle for the two projects, but Council members Carolyn Robbins and Mike Daley said that is not certain.

Robbins and Daley said no target dates have been set for the veterans park. Council is just exploring options.

Council members all agreed the first priority for Walker’s Pond needs to be to clean it up. It has been overgrown for years.

Councilman Daron Lee said he liked the design presented and agreed there should be a veterans park, but Walker’s Pond should be just a passive park for families to visit.

Lee also said the park shouldn’t be the priority right now. He said the priorities should be parks that have been on the books for years, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard project and the long-awaited sports complex.

He said the sports complex should take highest priority because it could generate tourism money.

“It’s time for the citizens to see a return on their investment,” Lee said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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