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GF road could become 'Veterans Memorial Parkway'

Grand Forks Herald - 2/13/2018

Feb. 13--Save for a giant anchor from a U.S. Navy warship, there's little yet in place to let visitors know when they're near the Grand Forks Veterans Memorial Park project.

A new city measure could change that. Members of the City Council's Committee of the Whole unanimously voted to show support for the honorary renaming of 24th Avenue South--the road leading to the 6-acre site of the future park--to "Veterans Memorial Parkway."

The Monday decision leads the way for a formal backing of the measure in the meeting next week of the full City Council. After the vote, committee member Crystal Schneider described the parkway initiative as "the least we can do" to honor veterans.

"I think it's probably long overdue," Schneider said.

Honorary parkways in Grand Forks, such as the downtown road named after North Dakota politician and city figure Eliot Glassheim, are marked by signage at their outer limits. The roads retain their original names as far as local addresses are concerned.

Al Palmer, chair of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee, appeared before the city leaders to ask to rename the road. Palmer, who came accompanied by most of the veterans committee, used most of his time at City Hall to update the council members on his group's progress.

So far, Palmer said, the committee has obtained an official tax-exempt status as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and has raised more than $200,000 toward its cause.

In August 2016, the veterans group oversaw the installation of the anchor at the park site, which also now features a parking lot. The committee's goals for this year include raising an additional $300,000, plus completing the foundations for a planned memorial wall and five obelisks. The veterans also hope to build two picnic shelters at the park.

In total, Palmer estimated the park's costs to hit $1.2 million, a sum that includes in-kind donations provided by contractors and other groups.

Palmer said the veterans hope to get the wall itself built in 2018 and, with some luck, will also see the obeliks put up by year-end. When the park is entirely complete, the site may be further distinguished by a retired cannon or fighter jet.

Palmer said his committee was driven to establish the park in Grand Forks, which he described as the last remaining major North Dakota city to build such an area, to give veterans a place to reflect and bring their families. When the committee started out, Palmer said members originally estimated the project as an 18-month timeline to completion--but that was back in about 2010.

Now, Palmer says, the group has its sights set on the finish line.

"I'm retired--I don't want this as a career," Palmer said, to the laughter of the room. "We're going to get this done."

Road projects

A slew of road projects will likely be popping up later this year across Grand Forks.

After voting unanimously to support a number of plans for infrastructure repair, committee members similarly backed the creation of special assessment districts for two broad sets of projects. Those sets include concrete repairs and resurfacing on Belmont Road, resurfacing on 20th Street and the reconstruction of Adams Drive on the city's far south side.

Assistant city engineer Mark Walker said some of the work--at least one piece of which was prompted by a resident petition--is preventative in nature.

"You might ask why city is working on these roads, which are in relatively good condition," Walker said, comparing to other streets in much worse shape. "We're trying to preserve these (city funds) and take care of these streets before they get in that condition."

The districts have yet to be approved by the full City Council.

State of the City address this Wednesday

Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown will deliver his annual State of the City address at 12 p.m. this Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the Alerus Center.

Those interested in attending should contact the Grand Forks area Chamber of Commerce at 701-772-7271.

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(c)2018 the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.)

Visit the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.) at www.grandforksherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
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