KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute, which has been raising money for years to build a statue of Lincoln in Bronson Park, is asking the city for final design approval.

The statue will depict a beardless Lincoln before he became president, commemorating the only time Lincoln made a public appearance and speech in Michigan.

The statue was designed by William Wolfe of Terre Haute, Indiana. He was chosen from an open design competition held by the institute, according to an agenda report.

In 1856, Lincoln’s name didn’t mean anything to anyone. Lincoln was an obscure lawyer who traveled to Kalamazoo to speak to a crowd of about 10,000 people, according to Cameron Brown, a member of the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln project.

“He came to speak against the expansion of slavery, so that was the moral imperative of the day, and he spoke very strongly about that,” said Brown. “We’re inviting Lincoln back to Kalamazoo.”

The City of Kalamazoo has already approved placement and specific location of the statue in Bronson Park over the last nine years, according to the City Commission agenda report. It is set to be placed in the north central part of the park.

“The City of Kalamazoo supports the placement of a privately funded bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Bronson Park,” the city wrote in a statement.

The Lincoln statue is set to be delivered and installed in Bronson Park by August 2023.

Funding for the statue has come from private donations from individuals, organizations and foundations that were raised by the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute. The only cost to the city, according to the institute’s presentation to City Commission, will be relocating a lamp post and electric post which are currently at the place the statue would be installed.

“Lincoln is common ground,” said Brown. “He crosses all political divides. And as we look at the opportunity to elevate the public discourse in our communities today, Lincoln provides, especially for young people, a good example.”

Kalamazoo City Commission will decide whether to approve the final statue design at its meeting on July 5.