Above is a drawing showing the planned expansion of the Greater Plainwell Veterans Memorial at Sherman Park. Walkways would connect to sidewalks to the north and a paved area with picnic tables would be added. (Graphic provided)

Volunteers seek to expand Plainwell memorial

Ryan Lewis, Editor

A decade after it was dedicated, the Greater Plainwell Veterans Memorial may be expanded.

The volunteers in the Friends of the Greater Plainwell Veterans Memorial group hope to raise approximately $35,000 to extend sidewalks from the current memorial area north to the pedestrian bridge, landscaping, a picnic bench area and also new spots for memorial bricks.

Local resident John Roggow is president of the group and said they are excited to fundraise and begin the work.

“The city came to us and said they’d really like for us to look at that area,” Roggow said. “They support us in every way they can.”

The original monument project was spearheaded by Jack Schumaker and the Plainwell Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9377 and raised approximately $100,000. The monument was officially dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2009, at Sherwood Park and turned over to city ownership with the understanding that it would be maintained by the volunteers.

Roggow said an endowment was established at the Allegan County Community Foundation to gather donations to provide for the monument’s care.

There are a variety of reasons for the proposed improvements.

Nearly 1,000 memorial bricks were installed in 2009; those donations helped fund the project. Since then hundreds more have been purchased, so space is running out. Adding two more areas for bricks will provide space for 150 more. That’s enough space to accommodate donations for another decade.

Roggow said the group also wants to landscape the area to limit flooding when the nearby Kalamazoo River crests its bank, as it did last year.

As for paths, the public currently has to traverse the grassy lot north of the monument to get to nearby Dean’s Ice Cream or the pedestrian bridge.

So, the project will provide a path to walk around the edge of the monument and connect to other city sidewalks as well as the walkway completed several years ago through an Eagle Scout project that extends east to the road. A paved area will have four picnic tables connected to the paths.

“So, there will be some excavation and a lot of fill work,” Roggow said. “Some trees will have to come out and there will be a lot of plantings.”

Veteran and volunteer Dick Lubic said the family of a man killed in a 1979 had agreed to the tree planted in his memory near the bridge being taken out and replaced in the new park layout.

“We’ll plant a new tree that’s not in the exact same spot,” Lubic said.

The designs to come up with rough estimates for the work were drawn up by Troy Stefl’s LDW2.0 firm.

Roggow said he expects the Friends of the Greater Plainwell Veterans Memorial to organize a series of fundraisers throughout the year.

“I’m thinking we can do a type of golfing event, a raffle. We’ll announce those events as they are scheduled,” he said. “I don’t see construction happening this year, but we can aim to do most of that next year.”

He does think the brick areas could be laid in this year, in time for the memorial to celebrate its 10th year of existence.

“If people know a veteran they want to honor with a brick, this would be a good time to do it,” he said.

Engraved bricks cost $75. The group is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Checks may be made to “Friends/GPVM” at 319 Park St., Plainwell. A brochure is available online to specify the message at www.friendsofthegreaterplainwellveteransmemorial.org.

More information is at the group’s Facebook page, and the brochure is also at the city’s website, www.plainwell.org, under the “Community” tab.

Roggow said, “And, of course, we are always looking for volunteers, both veterans and non-veterans.”

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.


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