August 23, 2009 in City

Memorial park nears finish

 
Kathy Plonka photo

Coeur d’Alene Parks Director Doug Eastwood stands at the Fallen Heroes Plaza at Cherry Hill Park in Coeur d’Alene on Aug. 12. The black basalt columns represent the World Trade Center’s twin towers.
(Full-size photo)

Coming up in the Voices

Thursday

North: Green Bluff celebrates 100 years of food.

South: Three exchange students return from Japan.

Valley: High unemployment a Catch-22 for soldiers.

West Plains: Camp kicks off marching band season.

Saturday

Valley: Seniors find love on the dance floor.

Aug. 30

Handle Extra: Back-to-school primer for students and parents.

It’s a place to reflect on the sacrifices of others, where fallen heroes will be remembered and future generations will gather to learn under a promise to “never forget.”

Yet, among the sobering monuments at the Fallen Heroes Plaza in Coeur d’Alene – the names of fallen service members etched in granite, the twin basalt towers, a 9/11 artifact given to the Lake City Fire Department – there will be the sound of laughter and children playing only feet away.

On the 30-acre Cherry Hill Park just off 15th Street, work on the Fallen Heroes Plaza is wrapping up in time for the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. After several years of planning and design iterations, the memorial will be unveiled at a dedication ceremony next month.

“It’s almost done now, and it looks amazing,” said Glenn Lauper, Coeur d’Alene’s deputy fire chief, as he walked around the nearly complete plaza that’s surrounded by a playground, a sledding hill and a bike course. “The idea is to have someplace where we could talk about fallen heroes, talk about the people that lost their lives in the (terrorist) attacks – the police lost 72 and fire lost 343 – and in the line of duty, but still hear the laughter of kids.”

The Fallen Heroes Plaza is the second and final stage of the memorial park; the adjacent playground featuring a giant red fire helmet built a few years ago was the first.

The plaza, which started in concept in late 2004 when Coeur d’Alene Fire Chief Kenny Gabriel was given a T-beam artifact from the New York City Fire Department, was designed by the Abbotswood Design Group. Its 12-foot-tall rebar sculptures of public safety officers were commissioned to a Montana artist, and two black basalt columns, representing the twin towers of the World Trade Center, were purchased from local stoneworks company Tumble Stone.

“To have anything like this to honor officers is just fantastic to have in our community,” said Coeur d’Alene Police Capt. Steve Childers. “I think it is a fantastic way for us to never forget.”

Under the gaze of the five backlit rebar figures – three police officers standing at attention and two firefighters leaning over the footprints of a companion – the names of Idaho’s 185 fallen firefighters and police officers will be engraved in a half-wall.

In addition to Idaho’s fallen and the 9/11 monument, the plaza includes a tribute to the people who lost their lives in a 1910 fire that devastated a large swath of North Idaho and Western Montana.

Doug Eastwood, director of the city’s parks department, said the plaza will have an estimated price tag of $200,000 when finished. Of that, more than $130,000 has been raised through fundraisers and donations, including $25,000 contributions from both the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Coeur d’Alene Rotary, and $5,000 each from Sunrise Rotary and Avista Utilities.

Jacob Livingston

Spokane Valley closer to plowing

Spokane Valley got a step closer Tuesday to being able to plow its own streets this winter.

The City Council unanimously approved a $90,072 contract with Poe Asphalt Paving, of Post Falls, to assemble and overhaul five used plow-sander trucks and prepare a leased maintenance yard.

Public Works Director Neil Kersten said he expects to complete the package in October when he presents another contract with Poe for equipment operators and additional equipment.

The arrangement will replace a contract with Spokane County that county commissioners have canceled.

Kersten said Spokane Valley’s snow-removal plan calls for the city to expand its existing contract with Poe, which already handles summer street maintenance for the city, for its plowing crew.

City officials plan to lease the abandoned Waste Management complex at 11720 E. First Ave. for three years while officials seek bids for a long-term snow-removal contract. The lease may cost up to $57,888 in its first year and calls for 3 percent annual increases.

At the same time it authorized the lease, the council voted July 21 to purchase five 1995 to 1997 sander trucks from the state Department of Transportation for $92,700. They will arrive with their sanders and plows detached and in need of minor repairs, Kersten said.

John Craig

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