MATTHEWS – The veterans memorial area in Stumptown Park will be getting a facelift that includes new landscaping, additional monuments, a mural and other improvements to better honor the memory of our fallen heroes.
The Matthews Board of Commissioners recently gave a green light to the Hooks-Orr American Legion Post 235 to start construction at the park. The work will be completed by late October and an unveiling ceremony is scheduled for Veterans Day.
No town funds are requested for the restoration, but Post 235 will be working closely with Matthews parks and recreation, public works, town staff, elected officials and citizen advisory committees during the process.
Money for the project will be supplied by the Matthews Veterans Memorial Fund and administered by Post 235. The fund is made up of contributions from individuals and businesses.
Mark Tofano, commander of Post 235, will coordinate the project. He said the current memorial area in Stumptown Park doesn’t reflect the way residents of Matthews feel about veterans, nor does the appearance live up to the commitment of Matthews to be a veteran-friendly and supportive community.
“The current state, putting it generously, was disgraceful,” Tofano said. “It just did not properly give tribute to our fallen heroes.”
The overall design for the project is the combination of concepts provided by veterans themselves. Those concepts are being brought to life through landscape designer Lisa Tompkins and Vietnam veteran Don Estes Jr., who is a student of Eileen Schwartz with the McDowell Art Center.
“We’re starting from nothing and it’s kind of a clean slate,” Tofano said. “We’re literally and figuratively redoing it from the ground up.”
The memorial wall in the center rear of the park was originally contributed several years ago by the Matthews Rotary Club. That area will be transformed with the installation of paver bricks inscribed with the names of fallen veterans. It will also have new landscaping, lighting and a 5-foot-tall back wall adorned with American military and service flags donated by the Matthews Veterans Advisory Committee.
The open space to the right of the wall, called the Memorial Garden, will be turned into a fully landscaped war memorial lined with monuments commemorating wars and conflicts over the past 100 years. The work will be completed by a team of Eagle Scouts.
In the area surrounding the flag pole, there will be a new wall with a mural designed and painted by Matthews artists. There will also be updated landscaping, irrigation and lighting.
Finally, the entrance to the park will be landscaped with signs to guide visitors to the renovated veterans memorial.
Tofano said he’s looking forward to the unveiling ceremony on Veterans Day.
“It’s very much needed,” he said. “The veterans in this area have not felt they’ve been given the proper tribute. It’s also a very heartwarming and uplifting experience, not just for them, but everyone in the community.”
Visit www.matthewspost235.org/about-mvmrp to learn more about the Matthews Veterans Memorial Restoration Project and make a tax-deductible donation.