Shelton consolidating monuments, expanding Veterans Park

SHELTON — Veterans Memorial Park, which is already a staple of the Canal Street greenery, will soon be expanding with monuments, both new and old.

The Board of Aldermen last month created the Veterans Memorial Committee, its charge is to consolidate all the local veterans monuments in the city at Veterans Memorial Park, while also planning for the addition of a 9-foot-high black granite monument memorializing the war on terrorism.

“We have all these monuments honoring our veterans, we felt that it was time to consolidate them in one area,” said American Legion Post 16 Commander David Gallagher. “We want to make (Veterans Memorial Park) a destination.”

The new committee is made up of Gallagher, its chair, Joel Hurliman, Sara Bacchiocchi, Dennis Salzer, and Ray O’Leary.

Landscape architect Jim Tate — who is working on the Riverwalk extension behind 223 Canal St., on which the city already did some work — is overseeing the designs of the expanding Veterans Memorial Park.

“(The American Legion Post 16) felt it would be more appropriate,” Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, Jr., said about consolidating the war memorials at the Canal Street park.

One job will be moving the stone plaque and eagle monument in front of the war memorial building at Riverview Park to Veterans Memorial Park. The building will then be decommissioned and returned to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The plan is for the eagle monument to face the Housatonic River.

“I thought this was a good idea,” Anglace said.

Tate said phase one of this process is moving the eagle monument and plaque, plus producing a design for the new anti-terrorism monument.

“We want to add the new monument for the younger vets … right in the center of the community,” Gallagher said. “For the last 20 years, they do not have anything. When they come (to Veterans Memorial Park) all they see is monuments honoring older veterans, not what they did.

Gallagher added that 20 years is “a long time coming” to honor younger veterans.

Decisions are still being made on two other monuments — the one honoring World War II veterans near the flagpole in front of Plumb Memorial Library, the other in front of City Hall.

Tate, at Friday’s committee meeting, recommended the monument at Plumb Memorial Library remain, as he stated that moving the piece could lead to it being damaged.

The one in front of City Hall, Tate said, is not worth moving to Veterans Memorial Park. The top portion with the badges with veteran’s names is worth saving and becoming part of another monument at the Canal Street park.

“It can be repurposed, but the casing on the monument is not for exterior use and the badges inside are now hard to read,” Tate said. “I do not think it’s worth moving to Riverwalk, but I think we should take some parts and turn it into a collective new monument at Veterans Park.”

The committee will make final decisions on those monuments.

“(Tate) is creating a destination along the Riverwalk and these monuments will be set off the path,” Anglace said. “It will make this a place to see something … an outdoor museum where you can walk along and see the monuments with descriptions along the walkway.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com