The new Veterans Park in historic downtown Van Buren will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Friday, June 30.
Freedom Park, the new portion of the park in the 800 block of Main Street and adjacent to the train depot, will serve as an entertainment and recreational venue. Plans call for the existing park to be redesigned as Veterans Memorial Plaza to be used as a space of reflection.
Friday’s dedication will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the ambassadors of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce and short remarks by Mayor Bob Freeman, City Planner Joe Hurst and Tyler Wood, a city council alderman and member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“The Independence Day weekend will go well with the dedication,” Hurst said. “We wanted to have the event around a holiday related to our veterans.”
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1322 will play a vital role in the dedication, Hurst said. A letter from Congressman Steve Womack also will be read.
The project took approximately a year to complete and was funded, in part, by the special election investment initiative from July 10, 2012.
Freeman said the concept behind Freedom Park is to create an exciting, central gathering spot for the community and visitors alike. The park consists of two pavilions to be utilized by the local Farmers Market, and for other groups and activities, an open green-space area with a stage, an interactive fountain feature, and benches and picnic tables.
Freedom Park will include a four-sided street clock donated by the GFWC Women’s League of Van Buren. The four-dial LED lighted street clock was installed Tuesday. It is 15.6-feet tall and includes cast aluminum post, saddle and head as well as aluminum bezels.
The Women’s League raised $25,453 over a six-month period to purchase the clock.
Hurst pointed out the clock represents how the community has come together to be a part of Freedom Park.
Members of the Van Buren Lions Club presented the City of Van Buren with a $5,000 check to be used to install interpretation panels at the new park.
Interpretive panels are an imaginative combination of text and visuals to tell a story about an object or place. The five interpretation panels will be placed throughout the park.
Williams/Crawford and Associates Inc. has donated its time to design and layout the panels, which will be installed after the dedication of the park.
A Battle Cross monument donated to the city by Chase Haynes, an Eagle Scout with Troop 45 in Van Buren, will be included in the memorial. Haynes’s statue, cast of pure American bronze, of a helmet, identification tags, inverted rifle and combat boots is meant to represent a fallen soldier.
Freeman said Veterans Memorial Plaza will be a destination to respectfully reflect upon and honor the sacrifices made by the veterans of all U.S. armed forces. He said construction on that park is expected to begin this fall.
“Both sites embody the spirit of the ‘Four Freedoms’ that were highlighted 75 years ago in a famous speech by President Franklin Roosevelt as our nation prepared for entry into World War II,” Freeman said. “Those freedoms are Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.