Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019Changes aim to open site to better use.UPDATED Nov. 12: Arlington’s Veterans Memorial Park will be renovated as unanimously approved by the Select Board at its Nov. 7 meeting (4-0 vote, Diane Mahon absent). The park is in Arlington Center between Mass. Ave. and Broadway Plaza. During the meeting, officials said that the monument within it is more than four decades old and that thousands of names should be added.

Renovations aim to open up areas of the park for better use, improve access, add a “reflective” park area, provide bench seating for 30 people and design a permanent honor roll, which can be updated annually.

The estimated cost of the renovations, based on an August estimate, is $2,595,178. Asked whether board approval included the cost, board Chair Len Diggins wrote:

"Technically, we did not approve the budget. Though a cost for the project was indicated, the request for funds will go to other entities.

"We did not authorize the expenditure of any funds; we primarily made it possible for Jeff [Chunglo, veterans agent] to move forward with seeking funds from the town, such as the Capital Planning Committee and the Community Preservation Act Committee and other sources, such as grants. The Select Board did not commit the Town to spending anything on the project."

The goal is to enhance the town’s economic stability by attracting more people to the area. To see the link to the planned renovations, click here >>

In a memo to Chunglo, director of veterans services, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Locke wrote, “The current park is very much in need of an upgrade, and the lack of an updated Honor Roll deserves attention. The proposed design appears to maximize the potential of the site, offering a fitting tribute to Arlington’s Honor Roll soldiers and creating an important and attractive addition to the Mass. Ave./Broadway Plaza streetscape.”

Why are renovations needed?

The park currently has insufficient seating, uneven walking surfaces, poor site drainage and insufficient utilities. The honor roll has structural issues, including the need for cleaning and the reapplication of gold leafing.

Some trees and shrubs are in poor condition, a report about the project says. Arlington Tree Warden Tim Lecuivre assessed all the current trees. He recommends removing seven trees, because of their poor condition or being an invasive species, and planting 19 trees plus shrub gardens. 

Given the fluctuations in weather extremes over the past decade, the town intends to plant trees and shrubs that will not be affected by drought, major storms or harsh winter conditions.

“This all started a number of years ago,” said Chunglo in his presentation to the board. “We looked at alternative spots in town and met with veterans groups. The consensus was that they wanted it in the center of town, and last year the Select Board approved the designation of this site.

“We don’t conduct services there, because there’s no seating and it’s not ADA compliant. That’s what led to this project.

“We met with a lot of town departments and refined the plans with input from the veterans council and different veterans organizations. Approximately 12,000 names need to be added to the honor roll, and we want to unveil them on [a future] Veterans Day,” added Chunglo.

Senior Landscape Architect Michael Kluchman concurred with the park’s condition. “It’s currently in rough shape and not ideal for ceremonies,” he said.

Board members' feedback

Select Board members weighed in on the proposed renovations.

John Hurd: “This is long overdue. Veterans Park is tough to traverse. To have an inviting location that’ll serve our veterans is important. The monument was intended to be just temporary -- and it’s been 43 years. This is where we invite people to impress them with our town, and [it should be] an efficient way to honor our veterans. I look forward to this project.”

Steve DeCourcey: “At last year’s Veterans Day, we got a positive response. We’re missing so many names from the honor roll, so I’m happy to support this. It’s well thought out.”

Eric Helmuth: It’ll be a nice focal point for events.”

Diggins: “I like that we’re trading some trees. I’m happy that this honor roll is ours. It’s really beautiful. There’ll be opportunities later on where it can be more educational.” 

Resident input

During the meeting’s open forum session, Tree Committee member Susan Stamps said that the park’s drawings look wonderful. 

However, Stamps also said, “I’d like to know how many trees there are altogether on the site. With climate change, temperatures are getting hotter, so I recommend that we plant trees on the side of the wall and a few trees in the middle of the circle. Until the new trees get big enough, we could use cloth hung on poles to provide shade to keep people cool. With seven trees coming down and 19 going in, it’ll take many years for trees to be big enough to shade anyone.”  

Watch the entire Nov. 7 meeting on ACMi:


Nov. 7, 2022: Donut Villa Diner headed to Common Ground space

  


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, and updated Nov. 11, to add an ACMi video window, as well as Nov. 12, to clarify the headline and copy. Editor Bob Sprague apologizes for an earlier headline suggesting that funds were approved.

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