Heroes Memorial Park is the working title for a Kyle area project expected to be unveiled on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 – but it’s an apt one for what would be the area’s first veterans memorial.
Several years ago, U.S. military veteran and then Kyle City Council member David Wilson came up with an idea to build a memorial for veterans, but the idea was never enacted – until recently. Kyle City Council members recently revived the project and this time instead of budget limited to $10,000, the city is starting with $1.5 million. The concept has been enhanced to include veterans and first responders, but there are still many details to work through.
The city is also planning to build a new police station in proximity to the park, which will surround the retention pond on the corner of FM 1626 and Kohlers Crossing.
“Kyle has never had a veterans memorial,” council member Dex Ellison said. “I think this is a unique opportunity not only to pay homage and respect to our veterans and our first responders, but also, how cool is it to use waste from our city and school district and other surrounding areas that TDS collects to build that memorial.”
Ellison expressed his excitement for how the park will be constructed. The $1.5 million, granted to the city by Texas Disposal Systems as part of a new contract signed earlier this year, was given half in check form and half in materials. Ellison said recycling is right in his wheelhouse, so he cannot wait to use the donated concrete and metal scraps to build the park.
Ideas for whom the park will commemorate are still on the drawing board, but the members have some leads. For example, the city wanted to include first responders because some Kyle and surrounding area first responders have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Council members are also trying to get ideas as to who or which wars to include in this three-to-four-acre park.
Charrettes were conducted with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, first responders such as the EMS, police officers and firefighters. The charettes helps the city know if it wants to include veterans and wars, which wars it might include, or if the city does not include wars, only names for those they want to include.
Soon, the city will hold a public meeting to get residents’ consensus and ideas to add to the information it already has.
The price tag on the park has not yet been determined, and many steps need to be taken before final costs can be calculated. Ellison said this is a backward approach from what the city usually does, but he has an optimistic manner that made him see this as a unique opportunity.
So far, the city has hired Nudge Design as the landscape architects, and they are identifying opportunities and materials to build the memorial. Once the city has a clearer view on what will be included in the park and it has a design, it will go back to fundraising. Financial support can come from companies or private donors.
Looking toward the future, the city would like for this park to be low maintenance and to be an ongoing project so more names or information can be added to the memorial.
“There will be conflicts and other wars,” Ellison said. “Unfortunately, other men and women will lose their lives. So that is something we’ve identified; we want to make this something that we can continue to add on to.”
Ellison sees many benefits and lots of great potential to come from this park. He anticipates the city will eventually build a cultural trail that will take visitors to the memorial park and to a central park that will be nearly two acres. Residents will not have to pay anything to enjoy it because these will be public amenities.
Another benefit he sees from the memorial, besides the recognition of those who served, is an educational one. He believes that those who may take the service for granted should know what those who serve do for our country.
Creating a memorial park can also aid veterans by connecting them to city benefits.
“One feedback that we had from meeting with the VFW,” Ellison said, “was that we could have something there so when veterans visit the memorial they can talk to somebody and be educated about the resources locally for whatever it is they need help with. There are a lot of resources locally. A lot of the times it’s about people being educated about how to get connected with those resources.”
Ultimately, the city’s role is not to dictate anything in the process, but rather to facilitate the creation of the memorial and find a way to fund it, Ellison said.