Cary News

Morrisville veterans memorial moving forward

Local leaders agree on a site for a veterans memorial, but questions of how to fund its construction are still unanswered.

The Morrisville Town Council unanimously backed a suggestion Tuesday by a volunteer committee to build a memorial on a strip of land near the Indian Creek Trailhead. The site, a little bigger than half an acre, is on Town Hall Drive directly across from the fire station and the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce building.

Jerry Allen, the town’s director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, said his staff also supports that choice. The site already has parking, bathrooms, lights and other infrastructure, he said, which will keep costs down.

The final cost is still unknown, though, as is how the memorial would be funded.

Allen said the next step is to survey the site and take soil samples to make sure the land is suitable for a heavy memorial pavilion.

That will cost $10,000 to $15,000, Allen estimated. After that, a company would be hired to design the memorial. That will cost about $40,000. The costs for the memorial itself are unknown until there’s a design.

Council members Steve Rao and Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said the town should make an early contribution to the effort, such as paying for the site survey.

“We need to make sure it’s a good site for a memorial before we keep going,” Scroggins-Johnson said.

Mayor Mark Stohlman, though, said not to discount what the town already has given to the project.

“You’re looking at town property, so we’ve made an investment from day one,” Stohlman said.

He suggested that the memorial should be funded mostly, if not entirely, by private sources. He volunteered to personally help raise the money.

Council member Kris Gardner agreed.

“All local governments are trying to make tough decisions about funding,” Gardner said. “So I think it would make our job easier if there was some good outside funding for it.”

Brian Donnelly, a member of Morrisville’s Veterans Memorial Subcommittee, said it hasn’t formed a nonprofit group for the memorial, a key step in fundraising, as it would allow donors to receive tax credits.

“Quite honestly, until tonight, we had not gotten that consolidated message of support from the council,” Donnelly said. “We have gotten that now.”

The committee has identified two possible designs for the memorial. One is an engraved wall. The other is a collection of pillars representing each branch of the U.S. military. Town Council member Michael Schlink, a U.S. Army veteran, suggested that organizers also look into a feature that would specifically honor wounded veterans.

Morrisville council member TJ Cawley said he would be comfortable with spending money now on the memorial, but with the understanding that the nonprofit would repay the town if possible.

“That would be ideal for our taxpayers and everyone involved,” he said.

The Morrisville Town Council will meet again next month to discuss the park. Officials plan to pass a formal resolution in support of the park soon, too, which they said will help with fundraising.

“We really have no place in Morrisville right now to celebrate things like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and to thank our veterans,” Rao said. “And I can’t think of a better way to thank the people who have served our nation.”

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran