MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Veteran’s Memorial Park in Muskegon has been catching some flak for its unkempt appearance, but there is an effort underway to return the park, deemed Michigan’s Most Beautiful Mile in 1934, to its former glory.
“I ask for patience as we are under construction and when we are done I believe this will be once again Muskegon’s most beautiful mile … and it will honor the veterans as it was supposed to do,” Erin Kuhn, the executive director of West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, said.
The restoration project at the park started in the spring of 2017. Since then, it has had a delay due to high waters. That high water, which is causing some nuisance flooding, is part of the problem for one West Michigan veteran, who reached out to 24 Hour News 8 for answers.
“I didn’t see nothing getting done,” Larry Wolcott, who served in the U.S. Army during the Dominican Republic conflict in the 1960s, said. “I see the water level high. They come out and put the orange fence up, but I thought, ‘What’d they do that for?’ And I see the water high here. I can’t walk” in the park.
About 4,500 plaques honoring veterans posted throughout the park. Some of those plaques are obstructed by overgrown grass and others covered by floodwaters over the sidewalks.
“This place has always been important because actually it signifies the 594 people that have given their lives from Muskegon County in all the wars,” Lupe Alviar Jr., the chair of the Veteran’s Advisory Board in Muskegon, explained.
“This park means a lot to us. It’s remembrance, it’s for the people that have gone before us, and it’s here for the ones that are here now. It’s something that we can share and come down and see history,” Wolcott added.
The project, funded by a $2.6 million grant from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, includes tidying up the park and making it something veterans and Muskegon County can be proud of.
“Next steps to this will be replacing some of the walkways, raising some of the walkways because of the high water levels that we are experiencing — record high water levels — finishing up some of the plantings,” Kuhn said.
Officials with the project say the restoration should be done by fall 2018. They are confident that when all is said and done, people are going to like what they see.
“I’m sorry that there are people out there who are upset, but when this is done, they’ll be very happy with it. It will be the most beautiful mile,” Muskegon County Commissioner Gary Foster said.