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Veterans plaza upgrade awaits city council nod

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An artist's sketch shows the five-phase upgrade proposed for the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza in downtown Sunnyside.

The granite is on order and the funds are in hand, now all that's needed is the Sunnyside City Council's thumbs up in order for work to start on the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza.

The veterans plaza site has been in place on Sunnyside's Ninth Street since the 1970s. A group of veterans led by Greg Schlieve is looking to spruce up the site.

Schlieve said $47,000 is already in hand, most of it raised through the sale of granite tiles listing those who have served or are serving in the military. That money will fund the first two of five phases for the rectangular plaza named for a former Sunnyside mayor and World War II veteran.

Phase 1 involves erecting two granite walls that will hold the granite tiles. The side of one wall will depict the USS Arizona Memorial and a side of the other wall will depict the three sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Plans are to provide a smooth finish for the granite to protect it from rain and graffiti.

Also planned at start-up is removing the cone that now tops a three-sided flag pole at the plaza and extending the flag pole by eight to 10 feet, then illuminating the flag using ground level lighting.

Schlieve said the first phase could start as soon as the city gives the okay and the granite arrives.

While Phase 2 is also funded and pending city council approval, Schlieve said work would not start until later this year when rose bushes lining the plaza will be dormant and will have a better chance of survival when they are moved from the site.

Phase 2 envisions laying paver bricks along a new sidewalk the veteran's group will provide. Schlieve said the area could be used for public announcements by the city, given its proximity to city hall, and for observing patriotic holidays and events.

As of now, the memorial plaza group is seeking council permission for the first two phases. Schlieve indicated the final three phases could take another 10 to 12 years to complete.

Schlieve sees the plaza upgrade as a way to salute local veterans, and put it on the map. Right now, he said, "If you asked someone to meet you at the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza they probably wouldn't know where to find it."

The Sunnyside City Council may take the veterans plaza proposal up as soon as its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, April 28. Until then, City Manager Mark Kunkler said the public can stop by city hall and see a sample of the granite tiles, as well as design drawings of the proposed plaza upgrades.

graphic courtesy Greg Schlieve

An artist's sketch shows the five-phase upgrade proposed for the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza in downtown Sunnyside.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Now on display at Sunnyside City Hall is a sample of the granite tiles that will adorn walls planned for the Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza. The sample features a plaque prepared for Corporal Matthew Emerson of Grandview, who died last year while serving in Iraq.

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