Veterans Memorial plan garners city panel’s support
Revitalization board unanimously approves concept
By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor
Aug 22, 2007 - The city's Downtown Revitalization Board expressed consensus approval Tuesday of a plan for a veterans memorial that includes a sweeping new vision for the courthouse square.
The plan, first unveiled Tuesday morning to county commissioners, was presented to the downtown board Tuesday night for their approval.
The plan is being touted as a "vision" for the future of the downtown square. The idea was hatched about a year ago with the formation of the Veterans Memorial Committee that intended to build a downtown memorial for people with Hopkins County ties who served in the armed forces, explained Clayton McGraw, one of the driving forces behind the concept.
As the group developed its plans, others became involved. The Downtown Business Alliance, for example, had several ideas, and suggested a pavilion be added as part of the plans. The city of Sulphur Springs is contributing to the financial cost of the architectural services for the memorial, and will oversee the coordination of the architect, Charles Jones, and be involved in other planning services for downtown.
And as the planning progressed, the vision began to include the entire courthouse square, not just a small part of it.
"It was the center of our county," said Don Roundtree, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Design Committee. "It should be more than a parking space."
The plan would use about half of the current parking area on the square to create a greenway with covered seating and a fountain. Don Roundtree, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Design Committee, said it would include an interactive fountain, concave area where "water will spurt up and kids can come in August and have a good time."
The design would also "tighten up" the streets around the square to make the area more pedestrian friendly, which downtown board member Roy Pelton found to be an excellent idea.
"I like the idea of narrowing the west side of the square," he said. "I've had people try to pass me when I slowed down for a pedestrian, and they almost hit someone."
Some issues remain to be explored. For one, the plan would require the mechanical facilities, such as the electrical transformer and heating and air conditioning units, be moved to a different location. Parking spaces on the downtown square would also be reduced from about 110 to 70.
"We know that there are things that still need to be worked out, but we know we can work those out," Roundtree said.
Sulphur Springs Community Development Director Johnny Vance urged the revitalization board to throw their support behind the plan.
"I would like for the board to vote to accept the concept, with the understanding that there will be additional submittals," Vance said. "It doesn't mean that we're saying without question that this is definitely the way we think it should be done. It's saying that it's a good concept, and let's get it out to the public."
"Fair enough," Roundtree said.
The vote to approve the concept was unanimous, earning the board a round of applause from supporters.