Vale City Manager Todd Fuller (right) talks about plans for a new veterans park in Vale while Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando looks on. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)
VALE – Vale city officials are planning a new half-acre park dedicated to veterans near M&W Markets.
Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando said the city will seek a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation to get the project going.
Preliminary plans place the park next to the Lewis and Clark kiosk across the street from M&W Markets.
Flag poles that fly the ensigns of each branch of the U.S. military will be installed at the park along with plaques with the names of living and dead local veterans. The park will also have picnic tables, benches, decorative boulders and a drinking fountain.
The plaques “will be the bigger size, maybe 8-foot wide and 5-foot tall,” said Todd Fuller, Vale city manager.
Fuller said there are also plans to build a restroom.
“It will just be a nice upgraded park dedicated to veterans,” said Fuller.
The veterans park idea evolved out of a separate plan to attract a traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and the city created a committee to streamline that effort. That plan, though, fizzled said Fuller.
“We ended up with a lot of dead ends on that,” said Fuller. “Talking to the committee we came to a consensus we’d rather take money and put it into something more permanent.”
The city does have one park dedicated to veterans at Pioneer Cemetery, Fuller said. The new park, he said, will be more accessible and closer to U.S. Highway 20, hopefully creating interest from motorists driving through.
“We did some brainstorming with different people and came up with an idea where we could put a park that was visible and easy to access and we liked the idea of having one at the kiosk,” said Fuller.
The city applied for the state grant application last week, getting a boost when the Malheur County Court signed off on a letter of support.
Grants will be awarded next March.
Vialpando said he has been working on creating a second park dedicated to veterans since before he was elected to lead the city.
“I was actually looking at property where the Slipper went down. But this grant came up and we already own where the kiosk is so it just was kind of by happenstance,” said Vialpando.
The Golden Slipper nightclub was a renowned, two-story brick building that collapsed in January 2017 on Vale’s main street. Since then, the property has been cleared off and is now an empty lot.
The existing kiosk and planned park stands on ground purchased by the city in 1899, said Vialpando.
“The city bought that property from the Hope family for $200,” said Vialpando.
He said the state grant probably “won’t cover everything we’d like to do but it will get us started with flags and other things.”
“Hopefully we can leverage that for future grants to improve the area,” said Vialpando.
Vialpando said the new park won’t impact Harper School District, which uses a parking area next to the kiosk to pick up and deliver students.
Vialpando said the new park could potentially generate tourism dollars.
“People stop to look at these veterans’ memorials and when they do they will get lunch or gas or shop at our other stores,” said Vialpando.
Fuller said the city is also coordinating on the park project with local veterans organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“We’ve had a lot of input and have a pretty creative layout,” said Fuller.
Vialpando said the new park will be “huge for the community.”
“It shows our community’s dedication to our area veterans,” he said.
News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell at [email protected].
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