Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association (BCVMPA) members George Crowell (left) and Joe Doherty flank recently built forms for the stairway that will take visitors from the parking lot to the main park. A handicap-accessible ramp runs to the right.
As a long, cold winter that stymied many construction projects in the area finally loses its grip, work has resumed at the site of the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda. Forms were recently constructed for the entrance stairway, and pavers that will comprise the walkway into the park are set to be ordered around the end of April with plans to have them installed before Memorial Day. Signage and the planting of grass in several areas will follow so long as support continues for the financing the effort.
“We’re entering into contract now with the granite people,” said BCVMP founder Joe Doherty. Once the current order forms are submitted with the contract, he noted, newly ordered pavers will have to be physically installed while removing a blank from the walkway. Each new paver to be engraved would cost $100.
The option to have pavers engraved to honor a veteran who is living or who has passed away was one of several elements of the project that were offered at-cost to encourage the involvement of every local citizen related to any veteran from any era or branch of service who served during peacetime or war. There are but a few weeks for family and friends of veterans to take advantage of the $75 advance cost of ordering an engraved paver to honor their loved ones.
While clearly pleased with the work that has so far been completed at the site, Doherty and his associates are as anxious as anyone else who has supported the project to see it completed and become the showpiece that it resembles on paper. Some key elements of the park, including most of the planned benches and several statues, do not yet have committed sponsors.
In a previous interview, Doherty indicated that he clearly understands that people want to see ongoing progress to continue to support a project. He maintains that every grant and donation has gone directly to the walls, flag poles, plaques, and parking lot that have been completed. Corporate support, Doherty suggested, will be crucial to further advancement of the project.
Doherty credits George Crowell with coming up with the idea to utilize the space that was merely a grassy lawn inside the loop of the Robert Farley Connector and Merrill Parkway off Main Street and Route 6 in Towanda. Doherty felt that area veterans deserved a high-profile symbol of recognition and initially looked at a narrow strip between the Veterans Memorial Bridge that carries Route 6 over the Susquehanna River and the Progress Authority Building between Main Street and the Merrill Parkway.
The causeway that already contained a landscaped area called Roger Madigan Park sloped sharply and did not render itself to what either Doherty or Crowell had in mind. With the blessing of Sen. Madigan, a military veteran and retired state senator, the newly formed BCVMPA approached Towanda Borough about the possibility of connecting the two parks via a walkway under the bridge and a parking lot that the borough had hoped to eventually build anyway. The first phases of the project to be completed were the walkway and parking lot.
“You have this beautiful river walk,” Crowell said in reference to the paved walking path between the Merrill Parkway and the river. “With this parking lot, this became the trail head for that.” Doherty credited Sen. Gene Yaw – also a veteran – for securing the funding for the parking lot.
All BCMVPA members are volunteers, who have literally done all of the legwork and promotion of the park at their own expense. Nobody except those providing contracted services has received any reimbursement. Middendorf Construction has overseen the work that has been completed so far.
Members of the public who want to take advantage of the last call for $75 engraved pavers should download an application form from www.bcvmpa.org immediately. There is additional contact information at the site for those interested in sponsorships and making donations. For additional information, interested reader may call 570-596-3224.
Details of the plaques affixed to flag pole wall are shown below.