by Susan Mikula Campbell
Early proposals for a new memorial honoring veterans were presented to the Wheatfield Town Board by its Veterans Memorial Focus Group on Monday.
The focus group narrowed down possible sites for the memorial to Fairmount Park or the Town Hall campus, but is recommending the park site for a number of reasons, including that it provides the best exposure to the public and has already existing access roads.
"It's the de facto center of town," said architect and focus group member Timothy Rider, who showed those attending the board meeting conceptual designs for both locations. He emphasized that neither the location nor designs are final.
The site in the park would be west of the ball diamond, east of the soccer fields and playground and north of the lake. It's in a relatively quiet zone off the end of an existing parking lot. Removal of the existing basketball court already was planned by the town because of its deteriorating condition.
Rider is proposing a star-shaped motif for Fairmount Park, with each point of the star honoring and bearing the flag of one of the five branches of service, and an American flag in the center of the star. A walkway and benches would lead to a reflection area at the lake's edge.
The narrower, teardrop-shaped Town Hall site plan, next to the Youth Center instead has a meandering, lengthwise path leading to the service flags and ultimately to the American flag.
Councilman Art Gerbec, who is the Town Board's representative on the focus group, said the town already has received a grant to create a handicapped-accessible bathroom and a handicapped-accessible walking trail at Fairmount. "This might fit in very nicely with it."
Focus group member Richard Muscatello said it was important to come to a decision on location as soon as possible, so planning can be finalized and fundraising can begin this spring.
The board had previously discussed including first responders as part of the veterans memorial, but the focus group recommends limiting the memorial to honoring those in military service and building another memorial dedicated to local first responders after the completion of this project. The focus group also recommends leaving the helicopter and tank memorial currently at the town's Highway Garage in place.
Other members of the focus group include: David Cirino, Roger Lance, Fredic Trunzo, the Rev. Bob Heisner, Justin Higner and V. Gregory Mish.
In other matters:
•Supervisor Bob Cliffe reminded residents the next Town Board meeting will be Monday, Feb. 24. It will start at 7 p.m. with a public information meeting with representatives of Quasar presenting the company's design for a proposed accessory tank to store equate that is proposed for its existing Liberty Drive location. The company already has built an anaerobic digester. Equate is what is left over after organic waste digests for 28 days, creating methane gas. It is considered a rich soil conditioner for farmlands. Equate lagoons and storage tanks have been getting the cold shoulder from other local towns, including Porter, which this week passed a law forbidding construction of anaerobic digestion facilities within the town.
•The board approved a 7 p.m. public hearing to be held before its March 10 meeting on rezoning needed for the Wheatfield Lakes Patio Homes planned unit development. The area still will be zoned as a PUD, but the parcel lines have been modified. Tim Zuber, town engineer from Wendel Duchscherer, said the developer's latest site plan has the required 25 percent open space, including a trail to nearby wetlands. Also, a cul-de-sac has been eliminated off Lakeside Drive.
•The board approved its 2014 contract with Wendel Duchscherer, which includes a $75 per month increase.
•The board approved a new fee schedule, with some increases, for use of the town's Community Center on the Town Hall campus.
•Rich Donner, water/sewer supervisor, asked residents and businesses to help out his department by making sure fire hydrants located on or near their properties are clear of snow.
•"We're running pretty low," was Highway Superintendent Art Kroening's response when asked about the town's remaining road salt supply due to an unexpectedly cold and snowy winter. "The guys are getting pretty tired plowing snow," he added.
Kroening said like other towns, Wheatfield is trying to get additional salt from Canada. When mixing salt with sand was suggested, he pointed out how much of a mess that makes. The town does still have a supply of the beer brine it mixes with salt and that could be directly sprayed on the roads if necessary, he said.